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The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has forecasted that a GP deficit in the UK will happen by 2020.
In a statement, the RCGP warned the UK could have a shortfall of almost 10,000 GPs by 2020 - forecasting a deficit of 9,940 full-time posts across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The organisation also highlighted the shortfall could leave 594 GP surgeries at risk of closure.
The group has called on the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to come up with plans to boost the number of GPs in their areas.
In particular, it warned that England would be facing a GP deficit of 8,371 by 2020, if nothing was done to tackle the issue.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is imperative that we recruit huge numbers of medical students and foundation doctors into general practice in order to keep the NHS on its feet. If we fail, there will be too few GPs to go round, practices will close, and patient safety in general practice will clearly be at risk.
“General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS, with 90 per cent of patient contacts in the health service being conducted by family doctors and their teams. The GP Forward View is a lifeline for general practice in England, and if implemented correctly it paints a bright future for our profession – we need to work together to ensure this happens, and for equivalent plans to be announced across the UK.
“Despite the fact that general practice is critical to the success of the NHS there is a bizarre misconception in certain parts of the medical world that GPs merely treat coughs and colds.
“GPs look after patients throughout their lives – from cradle-to-grave – and are an important part of local communities, in both urban and rural settings. They are the bedrock of the NHS, and they look after the ‘whole person’, having to understand the patient’s physical, psychological and social circumstances.”
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