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Lib Dems reveal Sunderland among worst hit by GP shortage

November 1, 2021 9:31 AM
By Colin Nicholson

The city of Sunderland is one of the worst hit areas in the country by the growing shortage of GPs, new analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

Colin Nicholson

Councillor Colin Nicholson

The figures show there there has been a sharp fall in GPs per person in the city, with just one GP per 2,339 people in the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group area in June 2021.

This is up 25% from the rate of one GP per 1,873 people in Sunderland five years ago.

The number of GPs employed in the area has also fallen by 20% to 119 in the same period.

It comes as many people are struggling to book an appointment with their GP, with services increasingly under pressure from rising demand and as Monument Surgery in Pennywell looks set to close due to not being able to recruit a permanent GP.

Wearside Liberal Democrats said the alarming figures, based on analysis by the House of Commons Library, revealed the stark "postcode lottery" facing GP patients.

The party is calling on the government to invest in GP services to ensure people can get a doctors' appointment when they need one.

Further analysis by the British Medical Association (BMA) shows a dismal picture overall for GPs, with there being the equivalent of over 1,900 fewer fully qualified, full-time GPs now than there were in 2015.

The picture is similarly bleak when compared to the UK's international neighbours. OECD stats from 2019 show that the UK's average of three doctors per 1,000 people ranks below the likes of Hungary and Czech Republic, and only just ahead of Brazil and Mexico.

Commenting, Lib Dem city councillor for Pallion, Ford Estate and parts of Pennywell Colin Nicholson said:

"The Government are badly letting down both GPs and patients across Sunderland. Residents deserve a fair deal. Instead of fixing the GP shortage crisis, the Conservatives are making it worse by failing to train the new doctors we desperately need.

"The worsening GP shortage has given rise to a postcode lottery, with our hard-working GPs overstretched and people left waiting too long for treatment or even an appointment.

"Families rely on being able to see a GP when they or their children fall sick to get advice, access treatment and get well again. The government must invest more in our GP practices and train up more doctors, to ensure patients get the fair deal they deserve."

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP added:

"These figures reveal a postcode lottery of care that is leaving people struggling to get GP appointments or waiting weeks to be seen.

"But instead of fixing the GP shortage crisis, the Conservatives are making it worse by failing to train the new doctors we desperately need.

"Families rely on being able to see a GP when they or their children fall sick to get advice, access treatment and get well again. The government must invest more in our GP practices and train up more doctors, to ensure patients get the fair deal they deserve."