A new scheme is being launched to address the 'massive problem' posed by a lack of GPs in Suffolk and north east Essex.

Dr David Cargill, 45, works as a GP at Stowhealth and is currently leading on a GP recruitment and retention programme due to be launched at the end of December.

"In the short term, there aren't any more GPs," he said.

"We've got a massive problem, but this is a problem we've had for years."

East Anglian Daily Times: Dr David Cargill, 45, works as a GP at Stowhealth.Dr David Cargill, 45, works as a GP at Stowhealth. (Image: David Cargill)

Dr Cargill added that, if they were to work collaboratively as a system, bolstering primary care would support other areas such as hospitals, paramedics and the ambulance service.

He also pointed to an increase in demand on services where, five years ago, a patient may see their GP three or four times a year, whereas this year it's been closer to eight or nine times.

Explaining that this would take a two-pronged approach, through both recruitment and retention, Dr Cargill said that they would be promoting the opportunities and lifestyle of the region as "a great place to live and work"

He noted that Health Education England has boosted the number of GP trainees by 57% in Suffolk and north east Essex.

However, as they are currently in training to qualify, they have encountered inevitable problems such as needing experienced GPs to train the new GPs.

Dr Cargill said that the "traditional model of medical practice has now changed in many practices" and care navigators should be used to match patients with the right clinicians - perhaps pharmacists and physiotherapists rather than GPs.

"The shortage of GPs means that we want to make sure they see who they really need to see," he said.

Alongside attracting new GPs to Suffolk, the scheme is also aimed at keeping hold of the GPs already in practice, including those at risk of burnout.

The GP Support Hub, termed a "Citizens' Advice Bureau for GPs" is a one-stop-shop for advice and guidance.

The scheme also supports practices to develop a comprehensive workforce plan for the next three to five years.

While Dr Cargill said this would be tricky due to their already "immense" workload, the project would aim to ease pressures to provide primary care with a "thinking space" on how they can continue to deliver these services.