GP patient satisfaction in Thanet among the worst in the country

Health services

By Jodie Nesling

Patient satisfaction in Thanet is among the worst in the country, according to new figures.

Industry news site GPonline analysed the results of questionnaires published by the government. Nationally, 83% of patients say their services were very or fairly good – compared with 79% of patients in under-doctored areas. 

But in Thanet the figure is 74.2% as GP shortages and an ageing population contribute to tough working conditions for doctors.

The isle has the country’s second highest number of patients aged over 75 years old per full-time employed  GP, as well as the fifth highest overall number of patients.

The combination of high overall numbers of patients per GP and high numbers of patients aged over 75 years old suggests that doctors working in primary care in these areas face some of the toughest working environments in the country.

At a time when the number of patients registered with practices in England has risen by more than 700,000 over the past year and fully-qualified GP numbers fell by more than 400 in the year to March 2019, 

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.”

Plans to fund three new  ‘surgery hubs’ in Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs’ are underway with Bethesda Medical Practice in Cliftonville awarded £2.5m to expand the existing surgery.

19 Comments

  1. By 2031 we are expecting a further 17,000+ dwellings + “allegedly” 4 super surgeries. Thanet has a shortage of over worked GP’s, how are the existing Dr’s expected to cope.

    • It’s my understanding that the super hubs will replace existing surgeries, they won’t be in addition. Therefore doctors will relocate.

    • It’s not a lack of funding, it’s because they can’t recruit!
      The vacancies are there to be filled, they just can’t fill them.

    • Very satisfied with Dr woodwood at East cliff surgery nightmare for appointment sometimes but she does a great job in very trying circumstances

      • Doctor woodward is a truly dedicated doctor. She is an excellent GP. The surgery is extremely busy and waiting for an appointment can be a nightmare. Doctor woodward is outstanding. I feel very lucky to be with her.

  2. No complaints from me at Broadstairs health centre easy to get an appointment and nurses and reception staff very helpful .Do not judge all practices the same!

  3. And what good is closing essential departments at the QEQM Hospital like A&E, Stroke services, children’s services maternity etc, and forcing Thanet residents as far wide as Ashford and Maidstone for these services. Maybe kill off residents will or is the answer to GP shortages and waiting times at local GP Surgeries.

  4. I moved here from london and find thanet gp surgeries appalling especially dashwood in ramsgate. The reception staff are rude they leave the phone off the hook( witnessed this) and the GPS are lazy and uncaring ( not overworked)

  5. Recruiting new doctors should be at the fore of all this and if money is no object as claimed then why are doctors not coming to Thanet? Is there a plan to make huge surgeries at the expense of all the local small surgeries? It is a nightmare trying to get a vital appointment at present so is this a deliberate ploy to get us in support of the 3 large practices to come at a cost of 2.5 million each? The Thanet CCG has a lot to explain to the public but is not listening to it’s patients.

    • It’s not just money involved in attracting doctors to the area. GPs are highly paid but Thanet is geographically disadvantaged due to being at the edge of the county. The area isn’t close to major teaching hospitals either and this can influence decisions.
      There has been a lack of training of doctors and now that shortage is being felt.

  6. We can not praise the Mockets Wood surgery enough. They have a walk in surgery monday and friday am and are open until 8pm some evenings . We have always got an appointment.

    The whole team are amazing caring and could not do more for you. If all surgeries where like this one there would be no need for anyone to complain.

    We changed from Broadstairs medical centre which was the complete opposite

    • We,re at Broadstairs health centre and the Reception staff are appaulingly rude and just don,t know how to talk to patients , We would love to change to Mockets wood surgery but they are at their patient limit.

  7. In 2017, when his role was Director of Corporate Resources Tim Willis received a salary of £98,245 plus £4,000 ‘cash benefits’ totalling £102,245 not including pension contributions of £15,156.
    Maybe Tim could help out? No one can blame the doctors. I recently looked at my council tax breakdown and was a bit surprised at the small amount that goes to this area.
    Our NHS is precious and important to us all. Whats the solution ?? Dashwood Surgery , New building,bigger surgery. Definitely hasn’t made it better. Queuing at 7.30 in the morning for appointments for children and all.

  8. Have to disagree with some of the comments on Dashwood Surgery. I moved here five years ago and have always found reception staff, doctors and nurses really helpful. I agree that having to get to the surgery so early in order to get an appointment is a pain but at least I have always successful

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