Understanding GP services and Primary Care is important for your Medical School interview
, as you may be asked on this. This guide highlights everything you need to know about this hot topic
– including some example interview questions
you could be asked.
Issues With GP Services And Primary Care
Some of the most important issues that you need to be aware of are:
- GP shortages. A survey found that 15.3% of GP posts were vacant.
- Increasing demand. As life expectancies rise and the population ages, demand on the UK’s GPs is increasing. According to the Nuffield Trust, the UK needs 3,4000 new GPs to keep up with population growth.
- Recruitment issues. In 2015, the government pledged to hire 5,000 new GPs by 2020, however the current health secretary, Matt Hancock, revealed in January 2019 that this target would not be met. Despite this, in 2019, a total of 3,538 GP training places were accepted (the highest in the history of the NHS). Additionally, 1,500 new Medical School places were made available in an attempt to tackle this problem.
- Practices are closing. Last year 99 practices were closed, affecting 350,000 people. And in the past 5 years, 1.3 million patients have had to change their GP because of practice closures. The situation is set to worsen, as research suggests that 40% of GPs are planning on leaving the profession by 2023. Not only will appointments become harder to secure, but some people will simply be unable to reach GP surgeries.
- Unsafe patient levels. A recent survey found one in 10 GPs are seeing over 60 patients a day, double the number which is considered safe. Also, some doctors work an average 11-hour day, with patient consultations taking up eight hours of that time.
- Long waits for appointments. In 2018, NHS figures revealed one in three patients had to wait over a week for a GP appointment, with 31.7% of people in 2019 finding it increasingly difficult to get through on the phone to their GP. See the latest results from the GP Patient Survey for more statistics.
- Unnecessary appointments waste time. The average member of the public sees a GP six times per year, with some of these appointments for things which don’t require a GP and could be dealt with by other healthcare professionals and services.
- Public satisfaction is low. A 2019 study revealed that public satisfaction with general practice is lower now than it has ever been before. Check out the British Social Attitudes survey for more detail.
Solutions For GP Services And Primary Care
One of the biggest solutions is to hire more GPs, but it’s not that simple. Med students are being encouraged to consider this career path in a few ways:
- Medical Schools are correcting misconceptions about general practice and encouraging more students to think about the role
- The NHS has a £10m scheme to incentivise Foundation Year doctors to become GPs by giving them additional financial support through Flexible Pay Premia (FPP) under the new contract, and educating young doctors as to what life as a GP is like though promotional videos and content. They will also get an extra year of medical training in a speciality of their choice.
- In 2017, a new scheme was announced in which newly qualified GPs can receive a ‘golden hello’ one-off payment of £20,000 if they start their careers in certain areas that need more GPs, in particular rural and coastal areas. Since the introduction of this, the number of trainee GPs taking up posts in these hard-to-recruit areas has doubled.
- International recruitment is a short-term solution. However, the NHS in England failed to reach their target of recruiting 2,000 overseas doctors by 2020 – the international GP recruitment programme had brought in just a fraction of this number (around 150).
A new five-year contract for general practice was announced by NHS England, which included an extra £4.5 billion investment by 2023/4. More solutions include:
Interview Questions About GPs And Primary Care
You could be asked about this topic at interview, with questions like:
- What do you think the consequences of the increased demand on GPs services has had on the NHS?
- Can you give me some reasons behind the increased pressure on primary care services?
- Tell me about recent primary care policies and technologies used to reduce strain on GP practices?
You can learn how to answer these in our free Interview Question Bank that has over 100 questions and answer guides.