Difficulty recruiting GPs at fault for Watton surgery problems

PUBLISHED: 13:28 24 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:28 24 July 2014

Watton Medical Practice.

Watton Medical Practice.

Archant norfolk

Problems at a medical centre have been caused by the difficulty in persuading GPs to come to the area, a council has said.

Watton Medical Practice de-listed 1,500 patients earlier this year after failing to hire two doctors.

Those living outside a catchment area were given two weeks to register with a different surgery.

Some people had blamed the increasing population in the area however a report to Breckland Council’s overview and scrutiny commission said the problems were down to a GP shortage across Norfolk as well as the difficulty in hiring and retaining doctors at the Gregor Shanks Way surgery.

Commission chairman Philip Cowen said: “There are two major issues here, one is communication and the other is recruitment and retainment of GPs.

“GPs retire, as they quite clearly are allowed to, and others have left for perfectly good personal reasons.

“There is nothing wrong with the medical care provided by the practice, there just are not enough GPs.”

While there is a 10pc shortfall in GPs across Norfolk one possible additional difficulty faced by the Watton practice is that it is not a dispensing surgery.

Doctors at dispensing practices generally earn more than those at non-dispensing practices.

Mr Cowen said: “We have go to sell Norfolk. It is a good place to come and live.

“The cost of living is relatively low and you have got good travel links to the continent and to London.”

The council has decided to consult with medical practices in the area concerning planning applications which could have an impact on them.

The hope is that this could prevent similar situations arising in the future.

District council chairman Robert Kybird, who chaired the review, said: “The next step is that we are going to share our findings with the agencies involved.

“We have identified further work for more detailed answers about the county wide issue.

“We can help our own area through transport schemes and future planning.”

The district council is looking in to ways to provide and support transport so that displaced patients can get to their new surgeries.

Some are currently facing £45 taxi fares for a simple visit to the doctors and there are fears this could stop patients from going.

Deputy leader Linda Turner said: “The problem is some people will not go to see their GP.

“They will end up going to A and E and it can get very expensive for the NHS to treat them.

“Prevention is better than cure.

“We are trying to create a transport map by getting in touch with transport schemes like dial-a-bus and community car schemes.

“It is going to be difficult but we have go to do something.”

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