Urgent’ action needed to tackle GP shortages, Bucks councillors warn

The problems are being compounded by the county’s growing population, councillors have found
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‘Urgent’ action is needed to tackle GP shortages, Buckinghamshire councillors have warned.

In a new cross-party review, politicians say: “Concerns have been expressed nationally regarding the provision of primary care.

“The shortage of GPs, and a perceived inability to get a timely appointment, as well as a lack of NHS dentists have implied a crisis in primary care.”

interior shot of a doctor’s waiting room, photo from Adobe stockinterior shot of a doctor’s waiting room, photo from Adobe stock
interior shot of a doctor’s waiting room, photo from Adobe stock

The Bucks councillors, who sit on the health and housing committees, add that the above problems will be compounded by the ‘continuing rise in population and expected housing growth across the country’.

The group says there are ‘growing concerns’ related to new housing growth among Bucks residents that the delivery of primary care is ‘far from ideal to meet future need’.

In the NHS, primary care refers to general practice (GPs), as well as pharmacy, dental and optometry services.

To address the issues raised in their review, the councillors make several recommendations to Bucks Council.

They say that a new ‘vision’ for primary care in Buckinghamshire should be created ‘as a matter of urgency’ – ideally within a year.

This would include but not be limited to an audit of current GP and primary care facilities; comparing this data against the predicted future growth of Buckinghamshire; and more research.

The review also calls on the council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing councillor Angela Macpherson to write to the health secretary to highlight the ‘inadequacies’ of current funding for primary care.

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In their conclusion, the councillors write: “The current disconnect between planning and delivering future primary care estates and planned housing growth, through the council’s local plans, is leading to missed opportunities and real concerns about future proofing primary care estates to meet the needs of a growing population.”

It is explained that complex models of GP estate ownership create ‘significant challenges’ for future estates planning, which is ‘not a GP’s core business’.

The politicians also argue that there are not enough estates planning resources within the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board.

The councillors conclude: “Prioritising primary care estates, as a local health and care system, and developing a joined-up approach to delivering care closer to home, will alleviate pressure on acute services and social care.”

The review, compiled using desktop research and evidence gathering meetings, was chaired by councillor Isobel Darby (Chalfont St Peter) and councillor Chris Poll (Ivinghoe).

The other contributing councillors were Qaser Chaudhry (Chesham), Robin Stuchbury (Buckingham West), Nathan Thomas (Tylers Green & Loudwater), Alan Turner (The Risboroughs) and Stuart Wilson (The Wooburns, Bourne End & Hedsor).

The review will go before Bucks Council’s housing committee next week.

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