Nearly one in five GP sessions in England’s most deprived areas are covered by locum doctors, according to an analysis of official data.
Patients in the country’s most deprived areas are much more likely to be seen by locum GPs than those living in less deprived area, according to date released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Information from the Health and Social Care Information Centre indicated that 18% of GPs working in NHS Bradford City CCG in September 2015 were locums, compared to a national average of 3.4%.
Other areas with high deprivation and a high reliance on locums included Sandwell and West Birmingham (11.8%) in the Midlands and Barking and Dagenham (9%) in East London.
GP practices in many deprived areas of the country have fought in order to receive increased funding in relation to other practices, and the figures seem to suggest that this request is indeed necessary.
Meanwhile, the authorities continue to review the funding allocation formula, which has changed on several occasions since it was first introduced in 2007.
A spokesperson on behalf of NHS Bradford City CCG indicated the beliefs of the organisation that “locum GPs are trained to the same high standards as full-time GPs”.
The spokesperson continued, pointing out that a range of measures are in place to ensure that dsepartments are staffed appropriately.
“We have a range of socio-economic challenges in Bradford. Doctors do have a choice over where to work and many choose to work in areas where demands may be less challenging. Together with NHS England and Health Education England, we need a long-term plan to make general practice more attractive and train more GPs who want to work in Bradford.”
Leaders in the NHS blame this particular crisis on problems in recruitment, with difficulties enlisting doctors in deprived areas posing a particular challenge.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey reflectied on the issue, describing the situation in general practice as a legitimate crisis.
“The current crisis in general practice and the shortage of GPs is having a major impact across the UK, with some practices, particularly those serving deprived populations, really struggling to recruit new GPs to replace those who leave. In order to maintain services to their patients these practices are using more GP locums, but whilst locums provide an essential and valuable service, they are not able to deliver the long term continuity of care that patients benefit from and which is the bedrock of good general practice.”