Credit: This story was first seen on This is Lancashire
An ageing workforce and a lack of new recruits is continuing to raise concerns for the future of Bolton healthcare, This is Lancashire reports.
Health bosses have admitted they face a challenge over the number of doctors based in the community.
The concerns were raised as it was revealed by NHS England that four GPs who hold contracts for their practices in Bolton have retired in the past 12 months.
There are 50 practices in Bolton and up to 160 GPs practising in the borough.
Board members of NHS Bolton CCG had previously warned that a lack of staff could be a stumbling block in delivering services to the community.
Chair Dr Wirin Bhatiani has continued to echo these concerns, including the increasing gap between an ageing workforce and new recruits.
He said: “Like many parts of the country, we face a challenge in relation to our GP workforce in Bolton as many of our experienced and skilled GPs approach retirement age. Nationally, we have not seen the number of newly trained GPs in recent years that we would have hoped. Here in Bolton, the CCG is working with our local partners to address this issue.
“We need to consider all healthcare professionals, like pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health workers, and nurse practitioners, and consider carefully how we can use these skill sets to help manage the demands on our GP practices. Patients are now beginning to consider nurse practitioners as highly trained and able to help with their problems, similarly we need to start looking at these other health professionals in a similar way.”
The CCG confirmed it did not keep an official record of GP retirements or changes in practice.
However The Bolton News was informed that five senior GPs were retiring within the month from practices around the borough, including Westhoughton, Harwood, Breightmet and Stoneclough.
An anonymous source working in Bolton’s health service warned the departing numbers may seem small but despite best efforts to advertise, there was a a lack of new recruits or junior doctors willing to stay in vacancies longer than 12 months.