Demand for doctors in Ipswich means some carry out 80 consultations a day, says CCG report

Stock image. Photo: PA Wire.

Stock image. Photo: PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Under pressure GPs in Ipswich are dealing with an average of 80 patients a day as the profession struggles to recruit in Suffolk.

The stat is included in a report going to the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and highlights the growing demand for local doctors.

John Hague, a GP at Derby Road in Ipswich and a member of the CCG’s governing body, wrote the report and said fewer doctors were having to cope with an ever increasing workload.

“It’s been coming over the last decade or so and in that time the workload and its complexity has increased,” he explained.

“There is wide recognition that this cannot be ideal. It seems common sense there is a maximum number where you can do the best you can.”

Reasons for the increasing workload, Dr Hague said, ranged from people experiencing more complex conditions to telephone consultations making it easier to speak to a GP.

The paper, which focuses on Ipswich, said the average number of telephone or face to face consultations duty doctors are carrying out each day is between 60 and 80.

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Dr Hague said in his mind around 40-50 consultations a day would maintain “high quality care and the health of doctors”.

It also highlights the fact most practices in Ipswich have at least one vacancy, with Dr Hague adding across Suffolk some surgeries have placed job adverts for doctors with no replies at all.

“We do a lot more telephone consultations and the number of telephone consultations nationally has increased by 60% in the last six years,” he explained.

“Every time you talk to someone it generates more work as well.”

Dr Hague said many doctors and indeed other staff at practices are working 10-12 hour days to fit in all the people needing a consultation, adding that to “try and shoehorn it into less time” left people stressed and was not good for patients.

In terms of addressing the issue Dr Hague said: “The biggest problem we have is the inability to recruit. It’s difficult to attract doctors and nurses to come and work in Suffolk.

“There seems to be a reduction in the number of young doctors wanting to become GPs. There seems to be a want from younger doctors to today to work in university towns.”

Dr Hauge said a report by The King’s Fund referred to general practice being “in crisis” because of an increasing workload bot being matched by “growth in either funding or in workforce”.

“That’s not understanding it,” Dr Hague said. “This is a very difficult place we are in now.”