More needs to be done to keep doctors in Bedford - as GP describes long hours and high patient numbers

“We need to help encourage our newly qualified GPs to stay in Bedford and not drift away to more appealing areas”

More needs to be done to encourage newly qualified doctors to choose a career as a Bedford GP, a meeting heard.

On Monday, Dr Jane Kocen, from the King Street Surgery, took the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee through life as a GP – which includes seeing more than 50 patients over a 13-hour working day.

“I arrive at work before 7:00 in the morning, and I process my results and paperwork,” she said.

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“I start clinical work at 8:30, followed by repeat prescriptions. I code and file letters, I do an afternoon surgery, during which I’ll support the trainees, and I’ll check nurse queries.

“I need to debrief the trainees, debrief our physicians associate, and then I’ll complete referrals and correspondence.

“I probably leave about 12 or 13 hours later, usually with over 50 patient contacts in a full working day,” she said.

Dr Kocen said it’s important to understand the current model of primary care general practice depends on thriving GP partnerships, known as the ‘front door to healthcare’.

But being a partner is not always seen as the best option for a newly qualified doctor.

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“The partners are the backbones of the business, they carry the risk, they employ the staff, they often own the building, and they are committed to providing good, safe patient care in their community.

“Of course, they are supported by an army of dedicated clinical and administration staff, but without their leadership, we do not have the surgeries to hold the lists to which patients can register at.

“Our GP training scheme in Bedford is thriving, but we need to help encourage our newly qualified GPs to stay in Bedford and not drift away to more appealing areas.

“We need to create and maintain a partnership model that appeals to new doctors.

“We struggle to encourage doctors to join partnerships, they don’t wish to buy into a building as well as putting up a capital sum to support the running of surgeries.

“[Medical graduates] are now leaving university with six years of debt, they want to buy a home to put their foot on a property ladder.

“And then being asked to take out huge loans to be partners – why would they take that risk?

“As our senior doctors retire the model needs to support our younger doctors and make partnership appealing, not another financial burden,” she said.

But, despite all the pressures of the role, Dr Kocen said she loves her job.

“I’ve been doing it for 32 years now, 22 years of them in Bedford, and it remains a real privilege to be able to look after our communities and their families,” she said.

“We’re invited into our patient’s homes at their most vulnerable, we share in the birth of their children, we support them when they die.

“The continuity of care we are able to offer is really a huge part of what we do. We are really lucky, but there are challenges.”