In London, employed and partner GP posts are vacant for eight months on average, according to a new survey.
The Londonwide LMCs/ComRes survey of London practices received more than 600 responses, of which 49% say they currently have a staff vacancy and 31% have at least one GP vacancy.
Half of practices say financial uncertainty about the future of the general practice model is preventing staff recruitment. Other factors cited include, low morale within the GP profession (45%), pay (43%) and lack of suitable GPs interested in the position (41%).
Combined, 39 practices are either planning to terminate their contract in the next three years or are considering closure to manage current or future vacancies. Kensington and Chelsea and Barnet are the worst affected boroughs, and could stand to lose five and four practices respectively.
In response, Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: “With junior doctors increasingly reluctant to take on the challenges of general practice, and many leaving the country in the face of the new contracting debacle, London's general practice future looks decidedly gloomy, delivering current service with fewer staff is unsustainable and unsafe in the long term. Let alone for extended seven-day services.”
More than a third (37%) of surveyed London practices say they are considering employing additional locum staff to help manage current and future vacancies, while 13% are considering reducing services and 4% are considering closure. The survey reveals that 197,883 patients would have to find a new GP if those 4% of practices considering closure go ahead.
"Until financial stability is secured and the low morale of existing staff is improved there is little prospect of the junior doctors currently coming through the ranks being the saviours. The oft-quoted influx of 5,000 new GPs seem less and less likely with every day that passes,” Drage added.