Revealed: Thanet among the worst in the country for GP shortages

Health services

Thanet has one of the worst GP to patient ratios in the country with more than 2,500 patients for one GP, new figures reveal.

In an analysis of doctor provision across the country The Royal College of GPs (RCGP)  compared  population data with GP workforce numbers from NHS Digital. It shows that, nationally,  the ratio has fallen from 6.56 full-time equivalent GPs per 10,000 population in 2007 to 6.19 FTE GPs per 10,000 population in 2017. The ratio is the lowest it has been since 2004.

Across the isle there are 2,520 patients for every GP and although plans are being mooted for three new super GP surgeries in Margate, Westwood and Ramsgate, there still remains a huge shortage of family doctors in the area, which echoes the national trend.

Only Bradford, Horsham, and Swale have worse figures with the Kent district recording 3,342 patients for every GP.

Bethesda Medical Centre

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Our patients are living longer – that’s one of the great wonders of modern medicine – but as they do, they are increasingly living with multiple, chronic conditions, which has a massive impact on workload in general practice, both in terms of volume and complexity.

“Unfortunately, as this data shows, the GP workforce is not rising with demand – indeed, we have fewer full-time equivalent GPs delivering patient care than we had two years ago. As a result, each GP is responsible for more patients – and more elderly patients, who typically have greater and more complex health needs – every year.

“This increasing pressure without the sufficient resources or an increased workforce of fully-qualified GPs to cope with it is untenable. The fact that GP workload is escalating and set to continue to do so – particularly with the drive to deliver more care out of hospitals stated clearly in the NHS long-term plan – whilst the GP workforce is still falling runs the risk of a perfect storm.

“We know that GPs are already stressed and burning out, in many cases leaving the profession earlier than they planned to, and a shortage of GPs is the main reason why patients are waiting too long for an appointment.”

In November residents at a public meeting in Ramsgate were told the shocking shortage of GPs, nurses, therapists and specialised medical staff is one of the driving forces behind proposals to change community health and hospital services in Thanet and across Kent and Medway.

Dr Jihad Malasi, chair of NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which commissions health services, told the gathering: “Things have to change and it has to do with workforce ratios and the number of doctors we have. Even if money was available on tap we still would not have the workforce we need. That’s why we need to restructure.”

Dr Malasi said some GP practices were also unable to sustain themselves financially, with closures on the isle meaning surgeries had dropped from 17 to 13 in just 18 months.

He said: “Many of them have not been able to get the right staff and they have not been able to get locums. This is why we have to look very carefully at how we deliver things.

“Many GPs are burning out or are over a certain age. Demand on practices in phenomenal. We love our patients and love seeing them but when dealing with that level of demand it is difficult not to see people burning out.”

County councillor Karen Constantine has requested an urgent meeting with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay to discuss the crisis. She said: “I ve spent many years involved in the NHS. Prior to becoming Ramsgate County Councillor I was Regional head for the Royal College of Midwives. I have seen first hand how the axing of nursing and midwifery bursaries has accelerated the NHS staffing shortages which are now in crisis.
Likewise, I have viewed with despair the desperate shortage of GPs which the Government has repeatedly failed to address.

“This study ranking Thanet amongst the worse places in England to get an appointment with a GP was predictable and preventable.
Thanet NHS services are in the grip of downward spiral. Including the anticipated and alarming loss of the Stroke unit at QEQM.

“I have written to our local MP three times seeking to meet with him. I’m dissatisfied not to even have received a reply. That meeting is now urgent. ”

Thanet CCG

In their 2017/18 annual report the CCG noted Primary Care infrastructure across the CCG could be destabilised to a critical point due to multiple GP and Practice Nurse vacancies. They say this is being tackled with “a number of workforce projects put in place to support practices.”

Last year the CCG was granted £2.5m towards the Bethesda’s expansion cost.


  1. Clive Hart , what are doing , should you resign for supporting Tory cuts, you were weak as leader of the council,then quit the Labour Party to join the establishment, the Labour Party is stronger without you

  2. We can’t expect anything else with the useless Conservatives in power. The only thing they run is everything into the ground. Dashwood House medical center in Ramsgate is a good example. Whereby every morning patients are expected to line up outside to try and book an appointment trying to make an appointment by telephone is like playing Russian roulette regardless of the patient age or condition it’s a case of queueing up before opening time come rain or shine, then when the doors do open a receptionists come out shouting “ONLY PATIENTS WHO ARE MEDICAL EMERGENCIES CAN BE SEEN TODAY WE ARE SHORT OF DOCTORS “ As each patient reaches the reception desk it’s a case of “ We can only see patients who are medical emergencies YOU LOOK ALRIGHT IS IT A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM????? Expecting patients to disclose their illness / personal details in a public area in front of others to a non medical trained receptionist is a total disgrace.

  3. Dr Jihad Malasi from the Dashwood medical centre that will not see patients happens to be the Chair of Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group as mentioned in this report about worst are in Country for medical appointments. How can his own practise be in crises? Why is it that Thanet CCG is failing all of Thanet’s surgeries and trying to remove essential services from the only hospital we have too. It seems that the Tory MP’s are not the only ones that want to finish us patients off. Are these the best representatives we have? What a terrible state of affairs.

  4. I am with the above! for over 3 years, after being diagnosed by a GP, I was treated by an Asthma/COPD nurse, when my condition worsened the year before last a locum referred me to a Consultant. The Consultants diagnosis was sent to my GP who concealed it from me! I learned about this by chance, and saw instead of having Asthma/COPD I had 2 life threatening , and incurable lung diseases! When I complained the GP said it was because there wasn’t enough GP’s to have my diagnosis explained to me, and they were only just coping with locums! Thats no excuse for concealing patients Consultants diagnosis, so I complained to Clive Hart Lay Chairman at the Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group and Caroline Selkirk Managing director East Kent, who both washed their hands of me, and my GP de-registered me from the practice! So Clive Hart, and Caroline Selkirk keep licking Tory Government boots, and counting beans, instead of looking after patients interest, your OBE’s are in the post!

  5. I’ve Been with the limes medical centre for a few years and they have got worse. Recently my three year old and my 6 month old we both ill when I tried to make a appointment with a doctor there were none left and I had to settle seeing a paramedic who was very rude and already has a complaint from one of my family about the attitude he had with our mum who is in her 70s and has copd. Something needs to been done soon

    • Your experience seems out of congress with what is happening at The Limes. It was the worst surgery ever, and I left for that reason. However, I have friends who are still with The Limes, and they report a rapid upturn at the practice. Reception staff ar eno friendly and co-operative, people aren’t told to rock up at 8am in the morning any longer. All in all they have upped their game. I am reading other sites and they report the same results. ie The Limes is 100% better. If you look here you will see what I am talking about

  6. Given how Thanet figures in the Indices of Multiple Deprivation the picture is probably considerably worse than the headline suggests : a sicker and an older population than average with a consequently even more dire health under-resourcing. The prospect of another 17,140 houses x 2.4 bodies imposed ‘allocation’ of displaced population may not improve the situation very much. And the prospect of a continuing loss of unskilled jobs (30% forecast by the Centre for Cities) because of Artificial Intelligence augurs not at all well for general health either. Hopefully the Local Plan Examiner will be very mindful of the ‘social infrastructure’ problems ? But possibly such considerations are ‘not his department’ ?

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