General practice services could face a crisis if more medical students cannot be persuaded to become GPs, a healthcare academic has warned.
Increased house-building in counties such as Kent over the next 10 years will also place extra burdens on services, according to Dr Stephen Peckham, director of the University of Kent’s Centre for Health Services Studies.
He said recent changes to the NHS had highlighted growing problems in general practice.
Mr Peckham added that at a time when the government was seeking to expand the role of general practice to provide more care in the community there was a national GP shortage.
He said: “It is likely that media coverage of problems in general practice and increased political attention on GPs has contributed to a reduction in the numbers of new GP trainees.
“Around the country many practices are finding it hard to recruit GPs and with many GPs due to retire in the next 10 years the problem is likely to get worse.
“This is true in Kent and is one of the reasons that the Centre for Health Services Studies is working with Health Education England to develop and support training for new GPs.
“In Kent, we not only need to increase the numbers of GPs and other community health professionals to meet changes in the way we provide healthcare services, but also planned house building over the next 10 years will place increased demands on general practice services.
“Given this, pressures on local general practices will increase.
“Unless more medical students can be persuaded to enter general practice there will be a crisis in the service in the future.”
Last week the British Medical Association’s general practitioners committee said waiting lists were set to soar as GPs are stuck between a mismatch of rising demand and “disinvestment”.
Committee chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned that general practice was “imploding” and that there was now a “conveyor belt of care” as GPs tried to see as many patients as possible.
He warned last week that thousands of patients could be left without access to a GP because of changes to the way practices are funded.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the number of GPs had increase by 1,000 since 2010 and that it had taken tough decisions to protect the NHS budget to strengthen family doctoring, reform out-of-hospital care and improve GP access for 7.5 million people.