'Significant' number of GP positions in Darlington remain unfilled (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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'Significant' number of GP positions in Darlington remain unfilled
A FAMILY doctor has called on health bosses to make the profession a more attractive career choice as a number of GP positions in a North-East town remain unfilled.
Dr Jenny Steel, primary care strategy clinical lead at Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group and GP at Blacketts Medical Practice, in Darlington, said the town is facing a recruitment problem, with health bosses struggling to fill a "significant" number of GP vacancies across the borough.
She raised the issue at a meeting of the town’s health and partnership scrutiny committee and said 20 per cent of family doctors in Darlington are over 50, with many facing increased pressure to take on more work and work longer hours.
“Those GPs are being pushed more and more into wanting to retire early under the pressure,” she said.
“We want to make being a GP a career that people to come into and stay in. We have a recruitment problem in Darlington for doctors. We have a significant number of vacancies that are unfilled.”
She also raised concerns about the number of nurses who are also over 50, and said: “If we do not look at recruiting nurses into the profession and valuing and retaining them we are going to have a huge problem in five to ten years.”
Dr Steel urged patients to not only value their time with GPs and turn up to appointments, but consider whether a different option, such as talking to a pharmacist, would be more suitable than booking an appointment with a doctor.
“People have lost the ability to self-manage, they need to be doing things for themselves,” she said.
“We have a small but very demanding population (in Darlington) and it is causing a big problem.”
To reduce the pressure on GPs and improve the situation in Darlington, Dr Steel is urging practices in the town to work together and offer an "integrated model of care for the people of Darlington".
“We have an opportunity to do something really different and pilot something from a national perspective,” she said.
“If we want to do something really different to try and improve the healthcare of the patients of Darlington we really need to seriously look at trying a truly integrated system.
“It will be for the benefit of everybody but we need practices to sign up. This is the way forward.”
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