Most oversubscribed GP practice in Bedfordshire revealed

"GPs want to be able to consistently give their patients the care they deserve, no matter where they live"

By Reporter
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 12:15 pm

The GP practices in Bedfordshire with the most and least patients per doctor have been revealed.

The British Medical Association said large disparities in GP to patient ratios throughout England are "wholly unacceptable" and called on the Government to address the longstanding issues.

NHS Digital figures show 1,074,080 patients were registered at GP practices in the NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG area at the end of January – along with the equivalent of 505 full-time GPs.

NHS Digital figures show 1,074,080 patients were registered at GP practices in the NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG area at the end of January – along with the equivalent of 505 full-time GPs

This means if the patients were equally spread, each GP would be dealing with an average of 2,125 patients – but the figures vary drastically across the 95 practices which were recorded as having patients and any FTE practitioners.

Oliver Street Surgery, in Ampthill, has the worst ratio in the area, with 9,190 patients per full-time GP – though the surgery only had a GP for 85.33 per cent of the hours of one full-time role.

This was followed by Kirby Road Surgery, Dunstable (8,940) and The Village Medical Centre, Biddenham (8,286).

Patient ratios vary widely across England, from 41,000 patients per GP at a practice in Coventry and Warwickshire, to just 96 at a Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin surgery.

Dr Kieran Sharrock, BMA England GP committee deputy chairman, said: “This data shows worryingly large disparities in GP to patient ratios across the country and it is wholly unacceptable that patients should have to experience such variations in access to care.

“The Government has failed to address the longstanding recruitment and retention issues in general practice and we now have a very unsustainable and unsafe situation where fewer GPs are being tasked with the responsibility of caring for significantly more patients."

Dr Sharrock said the Government has not paid enough attention to the primary care backlog and should provide "urgent and substantial support" to enable high quality care.

Meanwhile, the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes practices with the lowest number of patients per GP are Houghton Close Surgery, Ampthill (928), Barton Hills Medical Group, Luton (956) and Dr Hughes & Partners, Barton-le-Clay (962).

The Royal College of GPs said that between September 2015 and December 2021 the number of patients per GP increased by 10 per cent, the number of fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs fell by five per cent and the population grew by four per cent.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the RCGP, said some regions are affected worse than others as they face greater difficulties recruiting new GPs.

GP-patient ratios are highest in London (1,998 per GP on average) and lowest in the North West (1,601).

Professor Marshall added: "GPs want to be able to consistently give their patients the care they deserve, no matter where they live.

"But the increased workload expected of GPs and their teams while their numbers fail to increase at the necessary pace, is unsustainable."

Along with the hiring of more GPs, he said plans are also needed to keep experienced GPs in the workforce for longer.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were over 1,600 more FTE doctors in December 2021 than two years previously, with a record-breaking number starting training last year.

A spokeswoman added: “We have invested £520 million to improve access and expand GP capacity during the pandemic."