'Our positive approach will help solve GP shortage issue'

Measures have been taken to help increase the number of GPs says a correspondent
Measures have been taken to help increase the number of GPs says a correspondent

Re: Wigan doctors seeing more patients than national average (WP May 27). Your recent article highlighting the number of GPs in Wigan reflects the problems that are being faced in primary care across the country.

However, here in Wigan, our practices working within the SSP Health group have been tackling those problems head-on for over 15 years. SSP Health has put in place measures to reduce the workload burden on GPs so they can spend 100 per cent of their time on what they were trained to do – caring for patients.

Your report also highlights a national survey of GPs which states that doctors are working 11-hour days on average, including three hours of administration, and are seeing far more patients per day than they regard as safe.

To reassure your readers, I am confident that the GPs in all 18 SSP Health sites across Wigan treat a level of patients each day that is well within NHS guidelines for safety. We have taken administration work away from GPs and process that in our head office in Ashton-in-Makerfield. We have brought in new staff to help GPs do their jobs better, including specialist nurses and senior pharmacists.

We have introduced flexible working so GPs’ work-life balance is right for them and also offer doctors enhanced training opportunities across all of our SSP practices, which have been rated either as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by health inspectors – with all those assessed rated as ‘good’ for safety.

All this means that our GPs are happier in their work, we are retaining more experienced GPs in Wigan, and we can attract excellent new doctors to our surgeries across the borough. Your report correctly states that Wigan has fewer GPs per head than the national average, but these measures – and our positive approach to find innovative solutions – means that this is expected to be corrected in the coming years. We look forward to enhanced partnerships with our colleagues in the wider health and social care community, working together in the soon-to-be-formed Primary Care Networks.

Dr Shikha Pitalia, GP,

Director of SSP Health

Wigan