Monday 18 October 2021

Family doctors are swamped, accessibility in the balance: survey

Photo: Darnyi Zsóka via Wikimedia Commons

Lack of staff and locums is increasing pressure on family doctors, a survey by the national association of family doctors LHV has shown.

The association has some 13,000 members 1,100 of whom participated in the survey.

Three quarters of family doctors said the pressures of work are too high, while half said their energy levels were lower than before the pandemic. They said holidays were put on hold because they are unable to find temporary replacements for themselves or staff.

‘These are shocking figures which show that the pressure on family doctors is beyond acceptable,’ LHV chair Mirjam van ’t Veld told broadcaster NOS. ‘We are seeing a much greater demand for care since coronavirus and many people who couldn’t see the doctor during the pandemic are now coming in. I can see the tiredness in doctors’ faces when I go and see them.’

Family doctors are also having to cope with people on long hospital and youth care waiting lists, Van ’t Veld said. ‘People need care. The family doctor is always there and that is a precious resource in the Netherlands.’ But, Van ’t Veld warned, that access to a GP could be in the balance if nothing is done.

Long-term solutions will have to focus on removing the administrative burden on family doctors and a respite from large scale vaccination campaigns. Family doctors will continue to give flu jabs but booster Covid shots should be handled by the health boards, Van ’t Veld said.

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Although family doctors are swamped, Van ’t Veld said people should not put off their visits. ‘Please don’t,’ she said. ‘It will only lead to more delayed care and that backlog will have to be cleared sooner or later.’

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