SSP leader's positive message on GP shortage

SSP leader's positive message on GP shortage

SSP Health’s Director, Dr Shikha Pitalia GP, has said the forward-thinking measures put in place by the federation will eventually solve the shortage of GPs in Wigan.

In a letter to the town’s evening newspaper in response to a report stating that Wigan has a below average number of GPs in the local authority area, she says the amount of doctors in surgeries has been rising and the shortfall will eventually be resolved.

Dr Pitalia highlights the approach of SSP Health in helping to free up GPs’ time so they can have increased focus on the care of patients. This also gives them a fairer work/life balance, which helps to retain and recruit doctors within her organisation.

Here is her letter in full:

Your recent article highlighting the number of GPs in Wigan reflects the problems that are being faced in primary care across the country.

However, here in Wigan, our practices working within the SSP Health group have been tackling those problems head-on for over 15 years.  

SSP Health has put in place measures to reduce the workload burden on GPs so they can spend 100 percent of their time on what they were trained to do – caring for patients.

Your report also highlights a national survey of GPs which states that doctors are working 11-hour days on average, including three hours of administration, and are seeing far more patients per day than they regard as safe.

To reassure your readers, I am confident that the GPs in all 18 SSP Health sites across Wigan treat a level of patients each day that is well within NHS guidelines for safety.

We have taken administration work away from GPs and process that in our head office in Ashton In Makerfield.

We have brought in new staff to help GPs do their jobs better, including specialist nurses and senior pharmacists.

We have introduced flexible working for our GPs so that their work-life balance is right for them and also offer doctors enhanced training opportunities across all of our SSP practices, which have been rated either as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by health inspectors – with all those assessed rated as ‘good’ for safety.

All this means that our GPs are happier in their work, we are retaining more and more experienced GPs in Wigan and we can attract excellent and passionate new doctors to our surgeries across the borough.

Your report correctly states that Wigan has fewer GPs per head than the national average, but these measures – and our positive approach to find innovative solutions – means that this is expected to be corrected in the coming years. We look forward to enhanced partnerships with our colleagues in the wider health and social care community, working together in the soon-to-be-formed Primary Care Networks.


Dr Shikha Pitalia, GP, Director of SSP Health, Wigan