This week a survey has suggested that two in every five GPs are planning to quit the NHS, which could lead to an “enormous crisis” in frontline healthcare. The survey by Exeter Medical School also found that out of 2,000 GPs asked, over half reported having low morale.
GP shortages have become a growing problem in the NHS. Figures published last month found the number of GPs working full-time had fallen, despite proposals to recruit 5,000 more by 2020. And a further British Medical Association survey found a third of practices were unable to fill vacancies for doctors within a year. With the growth in the number of GP consultations, the pressures caused by these shortages are only likely to increase.
The British Medical Association said GPs were “struggling to cope with rising patient demand, stagnating budgets and widespread staff shortages” and warned the shortages could be made worse if Brexit were to lead to loss of overseas doctors.
In further worrying news, the Health Service Journal reported a leaked government document suggesting Brexit could result in the NHS being hit by a shortage of more than 40,000 nurses by 2026. Whilst it is important to emphasise that this is the worst case scenario, and the number is unlikely to be as big, the NHS is reliant on a number of European workers and with current staff shortages, any loss of European staff will be problematic for our health services.
The figures reported by Exeter Medical School and the Health Service Journal are worrying, and it is clear the government needs to find long-term solutions to staff shortages in the NHS. Also given these shortages, it is vital the government consider the status of the NHS’s European workers to get the best deal for the NHS when negotiating Brexit.