All five Ramsgate GP surgeries are at full capacity -or over capacity – and are now managing their lists by referring new patient requests to the Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group.
One patient who has moved from Birchington to Ramsgate says she has been unable to register her family and been told to collect letters from the surgeries to send on to the CCG.
A letter from Newington Road Surgery states that the decision to manage lists is due to “the difficult situation we find ourselves in.”
It adds: “We came to this decision based on clinical safety reasons. We currently have nearly 8,000 patients and just two GPs, almost 4,000 patients per GP. The national average is 1,800 per GP.
“We have been advertising for a new GP to join our team since August 2015 without success. This is a situation echoed in practices locally and nationally.
“Junior doctors do not see general practice as an appealing prospect and many experienced GPs are burnt out through pressure of work and are leaving the profession.
“Some local surgeries have closed down recently, adding additional pressures on the remaining few.”
A letter from Dashwood Medical Centre also says the decision is due to clinical safety reasons with 10,400 patients and just three whole time GPs.
At The Grange there are 12,000 patients meaning it is at capacity. A letter from the practice says: “We have been advised by NHS England, Kent and Medway Area Team, that we may register new patients but we are not obligated.”
The practice says for safety reasons it will only register new patients each month equal to the number of people who have left the surgery in that timespan.
The mother trying to register her family said: “The process of collecting the letters from each surgery was time consuming and frustrating. I had to queue for a while in a couple of the surgeries, not to mention the waste of paper. My thoughts are with those who are not as mobile as me, and those who are vulnerable, the elderly, disabled, and those suffering with mental health issues. How would they have found this process to complete?
“I am also concerned for my daughter who suffers from asthma and relies on several preventative medications to keep her condition stable. What happens now when she runs out of medicine? What would happen to other patients without a GP?
The figures stated in two of the letters are particularly shocking.”
Caroline Selkirk, Managing Director of East Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “The recruitment of GPs remains a significant challenge nationally, and for Thanet’s GP practices. Although GP practices are responsible for recruiting their own staff, NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group continues to support all our practices to develop new models of care to support GPs and help improve patient access to healthcare.
“A number of additional services have been introduced to help patients receive the care they need at their local surgery. Advanced nurse practitioners, paramedic practitioners, clinical pharmacists, and a whole range of other healthcare professionals can also provide the care patients need without having to see a GP. Although patients can always still ask to see a GP if they would prefer.
“All Thanet’s GP practices are now organised in three Primary Care Networks. This means that practices are working together to better meet the needs of their patients. For instance a combined team of health and social care professionals, working within an Acute Response Team, provide an immediate response for patients who can be cared for at home with an appropriate care package to relieve pressure on local GPs.
“The opening of the Kent Medical School scheduled for 2020 will also support our efforts to recruit more GPs locally in the future.”
Thanet has 14 GP practices working in three Primary Care Networks – Ramsgate, Margate and Coastal and Rural East covering Birchington, Broadstairs, Minster and Westgate.
The referrals to the CCG are specific to Ramsgate surgeries which have been ‘list managing’ since 2017. The surgeries will also employ other GPs as “locums”, associates or as salaried staff so the number of doctors working in a surgery can vary on a daily basis. Practices can refuse to accept new patient registrations but this must be all new requests to register to avoid any discrimination.
Practices must keep a list of the patients that they have refused and provide the patient with a letter with the details of the CCG and any practices in the area accepting new patients. The CCG will then assign the patient to the nearest GP practice in the catchment area.
In November 2018, 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.
Patients registered at each Thanet surgery as of July 1
|Patients registered as of 1 July 2018
|Patients registered as of 1 July 2019
|Primary Care Network
|Birchington medical centre
|Broadstairs medical practice
|Dashwood medical centre
|East Cliff practice
|Mocketts Wood surgery
|Newington Road surgery
|St Peters surgery
|The Bethesda medical centre
|The Grange medical practice
|The Limes medical centre