Redbridge suffers from shortage of GPs and nurses

An ageing GP population in Redbridge means it has one of the lowest number of doctors per patient in London.

A map shown to the council’s health scrutiny committee this week highlighted how London’s outer north-east boroughs are the worst served, with more than 2,500 patients per GP.

In contrast, inner-city boroughs such as Hackney and Tower Hamlets benefit from less than 2,200 patients per GP.

Redbridge residents are also officially the worst off in London in terms of nurses, with 12,384 patients for each nurse, almost double the capital’s average of 6,751.

Sarah See, director of primary care transformation for BHR integrated partnership at North East London Clinical Commission Group, told Tuesday’s meeting: “In terms of GP numbers, we’ve been working at that – if I’m being honest it’s a lot of hard work.

“As we recruit somebody we’re obviously still losing somebody, but we’ve got an ageing GP population so we’re almost standing still.”

See told the committee there is a “national shortage” of GPs, but an “equalisation programme” will soon be launched to rebalance Redbridge with better-off boroughs.

To improve the shortage of nurses, efforts are also being made to train more people in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Committee chairman Neil Zammett questioned why inner London boroughs such as Hackney and Tower Hamlets have much better ratios of GPs, at less than 2,235 per patient.

Cllr Zammett said: “What this brings out more than anything else is that the standard tends to be very variable across north-east London, and inner London tends to be better resourced and tends to have much higher standards than outer London.”

See told members the location in London may also be less popular with trainee GPs, with some also wishing to avoid the stress of busy practices.

She added: “I think there’s a risk around other issues, a lot of GPs are born and bred here and are committed to the patch and work long hours, but they need to have a wider workforce around them, and that’s what we’re trying to build.”

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter