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Doctors in Medway are struggling to cope with the number of patients according to Dr Julian Spinks

Doctors cannot keep up with the number of patients attending their practices and a shift in the population could cause more problems, according to one Medway GP.

Dr Julian Spinks, who works at Court View Surgery, Darnley Road, Strood, said he doesn’t feel he is offering the service he would want to his patients.

“We are actually working harder and faster than we ever have but we cannot keep up because demand is outstripping that,” he said. “The pressure of the job is more relentless. It is a constant balance thinking of the needs of patients.

Dr Julian Spinks at his Strood surgery
Dr Julian Spinks at his Strood surgery

“But we have got to turn it around. If the GPs aren’t there, the NHS fails to operate. We provide around 90% of patient contact with the NHS – yet receive just 8% of the funding.”

He said it can take a year to replace a doctor if one has left or retired, and many GPs also tend not to fully retire but work part-time.

According to information on the NHS choices website, there is a vast difference, often in the thousands, between the number of patients per GP.

In Strood, for example, there is one GP at St Mary’s Medical Centre, Vicarage Road, for more than 7,000 patients, whereas Court View Surgery on Darnley Road has five GPs for 9,600 patients, leaving each GP with almost 2,000 patients.

The information does not include other staff such as practice nurses and locums and cannot show whether a doctor works part-time or full-time.

Dr Spinks, who is also the chairman of the Kent Local Medical Committee (LMC), added: “Theoretically, if there is one GP, you should have two or three patients waiting in the waiting area.

“But it’s not like that now. Because we have got one in 10 GP places across the country unfilled, the actual number is going down.

“The number of times people go to see their GP is rising steadily too. All you need is a shift in the population and you’ve got a problem.”

He said GPs needed to provide an extra 40 million extra appointments in the last five years across the country, yet on average an 80-year-old would need at least 10 more visits a year compared to a 20-year-old.

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