The popularity of London as a location for GPs to live and work has been highlighted by official workforce data from 2016, which shows that the capital gained the whole of the national increase in GP hours, equating to just over 12,100 GP working hours per week.
With a nationwide crisis owing to the dire shortage of GPs throughout England, clearly urgent action is required to encourage GPs to choose locations outside of London and especially those in the more deprived areas of the country.
Dr Richard Vautrey the GPC deputy chair said that the urgent problem of imbalanced distribution of GPs between the north and south of England is not being resolved.
While acknowledging the vital need for an increase in the total workforce, Dr Vautrey called for more incentive schemes to make working further north more attractive to GPs and their partners, who may also need to find jobs in their own professions, medical or otherwise.
Although the Government’s Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is apparently trying to persuade more junior doctors to choose General Practice as a career, more support is clearly needed to create a fairer distribution of the GP workforce, which is already under severe strain and overstretched.
As well as incentives the NHS needs to look at creative alternatives, such as the sourcing of GPs from EU countries. A trial scheme by the LMC in Lincolnshire is under way and award winning medical recruitment consultancy Primary Care Professionals has launched a Scholarship Programme for highly qualified EU GPs, which the company is funding independently and hopes to bring in an extra and much needed 600 GPs over the next two years.
Although many EU GPs may like the idea of living in the capital the incentives of increasing their incomes as compared to their home countries and making a new life for their families while progressing their careers will mean that they are more amenable to working throughout the country in locations where they are most needed.