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Concerns that GP practices will fall 'like dominoes'.

Byline: JAMES HARRISON Local democracy reporter

COUNCIL chiefs have warned of an impending crisis over GP numbers in the region.

Representatives of seven local authorities in Tyne and Wear met in Gateshead to discuss healthcare in the area.

And one of the major issues raised was declining coverage by family doctors.

"We've got major concerns in County Durham," Durham councillor John Robinson told the Northumberland Tyne and Wear and North Durham STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan) Health Scrutiny Committee.

"We've got one GP practice out now for consultation [on its future] because instead of eight GPs they've got 2.3.

"We're concerned this is the first domino and others will follow."

Coun Robinson was referring to the Skerne Medical Group, in the south of the county, which is considering closing two of its four practices from next year due to a shortage of GPs. According to figures from the House of Commons Library, the number of GPs in the North East and Cumbria fell by more than 7% between September 2015 and December 2017, down from 1,774 to 1,643. GP training figures from last year also showed about a quarter of vacancies remained unfilled, with just 147 applicants for 192 places in the region.

For Sunderland councillor Darryl Dixon the problem reflected a failure of national policy.

"I think this is a regional issue and a national issue," he said.

"The days of the small surgery are gone.

"We're seeing mergers, we're seeing closures which create a lot of problems, but there's also national issues around locums - I know of two surgeries in Sunderland which closed because the doctors wanted to work as locums.

"There's not just a shortage of doctors, there's a shortage of doctors wanting to go into local general practice."

We've got one GP practice with 2.3 GPs instead of eightCoun John Robinson


Coun John Robinson

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 30, 2018
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