Lincolnshire faces a shortage of more than 200 doctors over the next four years according to a new report.
The numbers were revealed in a report due to go before Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday.
The report said that nationally the number of GPs has fallen from 51.5 per 100,000 patients in 2016, to 46.3 per 100,000 in March this year.
“The Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, working with the Whole Systems Partnership, have modelled the clinical workforce and this indicates that there will be a shortage of 220 “autonomous” practitioners by 2025. This needs to be addressed,” said the report.
The county has found it notoriously difficult to recruit and retain healthcare staff over the past decade leading to numerous changes to healthcare systems and threats of closure, sparking campaigns from members of the public.
Dr Kieran Sharrock, medical director for Lincolnshire Local Medical Committee, told BBC Radio Lincolnshire on Monday: “The situation is getting worse because we’ve got an ageing population of GPs.
“Also the increasing demand that we’re receiving means a lot of GPs are thinking they can’t cope with being a doctor so they’re going part-time or retiring early.”
He added that it was not just doctors but also nurses and other practitioners.
He said the newly opened medical school at Lincoln University will help but “that doesn’t solve the problem immediately” because it takes 10 years to train a GP.
Solutions include patients being asked to see other healthcare practitioners, using phone or video consultations or even travelling further afield.
Self care and prevention are also being prioritised.
“Patients sometimes have to understand that if they ring up and ask to see a GP we might say can you see a pharmacist, a physical therapist or a nurse practitioner and that’s why they need to be able to tell our receptionists, our care navigators, what the problem is so we can get them seen by the most appropriate person,” said Dr Sharrock.
According to the report, in July 2021 in Lincolnshire 63% of “triaged contacts” resulted in face-to-face appointments, with 47% on the same day, and 73% within seven days of the request.