A warning has gone out that GP practices in South Devon are on the brink of a crisis.
There is a possibility of some overwhelmed GP surgeries closing permanently, temporarily or running reduced services.
The warning comes from the Devon Local Medical Committee. The LMC’s alert status system – which local GP practices use to flag how much pressure they are under – has hit its second highest level ‘Red’ for the first time for the last two weeks.
The LMC says local GP surgeries have been overwhelmed by issues such as increased workload – including delivering the majority of the Covid-19 vaccination programme on top of the day job – longstanding GP and practice nurse shortages and years of under-resourcing.
Fears are growing that later in the year many local GP surgeries won’t have the resources or resilience to deal with the existing challenges, plus additional pressures like a huge increase in Covid-19 numbers, a significant rise in respiratory virus cases and a predicted hike in flu cases of at least 50%.
Dr Rachel Ali, Chair at Devon LMC, said: “We predict a significant rise in Red and Black assessments over winter. By Christmas, we envisage 35 per cent of local GP practices will be reporting Red or Black – that’s around 43 practices in crisis across the county every week.
“The LMC is calling for urgent support from our local health system partners to help manage demand, stabilise the workforce and release capacity for the emerging work associated with Covid-19 and flu and to find ways to plan ahead for crisis points.”
The LMC would still like to reassure the public that:
⦁ All GP practices remain open for patients.
⦁ If you require an appointment, then the most appropriate appointment will be offered and discussed with you.
⦁ Routine annual checks for long-term health conditions may have been delayed.
⦁ People can find the most appropriate healthcare service to meet their needs by looking online at ⦁ NHS Service Finder. If you need help now, and you're not sure what to do go to ⦁ 111.nhs.uk or call 111. If you think it's an emergency call 999.
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