A NORTH-EAST GP has warned of a looming crisis in the region’s National Health Service, with many older family doctors thinking of retiring early due to the increasing pressure of work.

Dr John Canning, secretary of the Cleveland Local Medical Committee, warned that the Government needed to take urgent action to head off the growing threat to general practice in the region and in the country.

His warning coincided with the launch of a major new campaign by the British Medical Association called ‘Your GP cares’.

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The campaign calls for long-term investment in general practice and points out that GPs are facing what the BMA calls “unprecedented strain”

It has been calculated by NHS England that at least 340m patient consultations are now undertaken by GPs every year, up 40m since 2008.

Dr Canning said: “Doctors in the region who are nearing retirement are increasingly going sooner than they would have done and this is due to the relentless pressure of work these days.”

He said he had just had a typical morning surgery, dealing with 31 patients including one who needed to be admitted to hospital, answering phone enquiries and giving advice to practice nurses.

“That was bad enough but we also have days from hell like last Tuesday, the day after a Bank Holiday, when we saw a record number of patients,” he added.

“We are having more complicated consultants than we used to and people are discharged from hospital earlier,” he added.

He warned that as older GPs took early retirement to escape the pressure medical schools were finding it difficult to attract students to GP courses.

“I understand they have not been able to fill all of the GP training places in the region,” Dr Canning added.