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GP shortage forces medical practice to slash appointments

A MEDICAL practice in Bradford has sent texts to 14,000 patients telling them that extreme NHS pressures has forced it to cut appointments this summer.

The Ridge Practice, which covers Buttershaw, Wibsey and Great Horton, has warned patients they might be asked to phone back for non-urgent or ongoing issues.

But it did give the reassurance that any urgent medical problems would be prioritised, as would any vulnerable patients such as the elderly and children.

Business manager Nick Nurden said: “We are a big practice. We have 23,000 patients.

“We have a duty to give excellent care to all our patients all of the time but we are facing extreme pressures within the NHS and primary care at the moment where nationally there’s a shortage of funding.

“We are short of GPs as is everyone. We could do with four more full time doctors but there’s no money to do that and there are not the doctors to employ.

“Nationally the demand of GPs outstrips the availability. We are doing what we can to try to manage but we are always stretched.”

Mr Nurden said the practice realised it had “a perfect storm” brewing due to staff summer holidays and made the decision to explain the situation to patients.

“We’ve done our best to work out rotas for the summer. We’ve had members of staff who have left and we’ve recruited new ones but if they come to us with holidays already organised we can’t say no,” he said.

“Our GPs are also working at home on a night on paperwork and admin so they can spend more time in the surgery with patients. We are all working very hard.

“Rather than bluster it out we thought it was only fair to send out a message saying it was going to be really tight and if you need or can wait, please be patient.

“We are not saying we aren’t providing care, routine appointments are available. We are still providing all urgent care and our vulnerable patients continue to be prioritised.

“There’s a lot of other GP surgeries blustering their way through but we wanted to be upfront.”

Normal services were expected to resume in September, added Mr Nurden.

A spokesman for Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Nationally there are staff shortages in primary care, and our plans are strongly focused on attracting people towards working in the profession.”

“However, people can help by only visiting their GP if they need to and use other services such as pharmacists, who are experts in medicines and minor illnesses or use the NHS Choices website to self-care where possible.”

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