Building new surgeries won’t solve problem of lack of GPs says local NHS chair

Dr Rima Makarem Image supplied by BLMK ICB
Dr Rima Makarem. Image: BLMK ICB

A lack of GPs is a national issue and just building new surgeries won’t solve the problem, a local NHS leader has said.

Dr Rima Makarem, the chair of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board was asked about GP access by the Local Democracy Reporting Service at an Employment and Health Seminar held last week.

She said GP access is a national problem, and that she has problems when calling her own GP, but added that there isn’t a queue of GPs waiting to be given premises,

“People think well if you put in another building that’s going to solve the [GP access] problem,” she said.

“It’s not going to solve the problem as the workforce isn’t out there.

“But equally, when you think about why people go to the GP – not all of it is about seeing a GP.

“So for minor aliments – I’ve got a bit of a cough – go to your pharmacists. [If you] need bloods taken you don’t need the GP….there are nurses out there who are better qualified to do it.

“So first of all, it’s about making sure we have all of the right people across primary care, it’s not just GPs. Then [make sure] patients know where to go for whatever they need.”

Dr Makarem added that GPs have too many time-consuming things to do.

“The amount of time they spend on bureaucracy, filling in forms that might not even look the same but it’s to refer people to the same hospital but for different services. So they’ve got to learn a multitude of different forms, so how do you reduce some of that bureaucracy?

“Also the thing that we’ve all grown up with is if you need anything [medical] you need your GP’s referral or a reference from your GP.

“You don’t always need that, so we need to take that out, so we are currently looking at how we set up, for example, physiotherapy services where people don’t have to go via the GP and they can self refer, because that makes up 15 to 30 per cent of the calls that GPs get. So if they don’t have those calls anymore they can see more people.

“It’s that multi-pronged approach for a very difficult problem,” she said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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