GP Numbers Drop: How Chiropractors Could be the Untapped Workforce Solution

For the first time in over 50 years, the NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in the UK as revealed by the BBC.

The research and analysis undertaken by the Nuffield Trust think thank showed that the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year.

Patients across the UK are reporting difficulties in making appointments, and there have been reports of waiting times of up to seven weeks for appointments. Those needing urgent appointments have been forced to queue outside practised to guarantee a chance of seeing their doctor.

So what can First Contact Practitioners (FCP), such as chiropractors, do to help relieve the burden and pressures on primary care services?

Across the country there are examples where chiropractors are taking FCP roles and are well-received by the surgery or practice team. These opportunities are key to assist with the current pressures, and chiropractors in particular are an untapped workforce to fill some of the needs within primary care services.

AECC University College have played a significant role in the Wessex Deanery GP Scheme, where GP trainees come to the University College for a week-long workshop to learn specifically about musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints with the institutions’ clinical experts and chiropractic interns. From the success of the scheme, we were invited to pilot at the Grove Surgery in Christchurch to ease GP workload around MSK complaints – the idea being that patients would see one of AECC University College’s MSK specialists rather than a GP for MSK related complaints.

Dr Neil Osborne, Director of AECC University College’s Clinic commented: “Feedback from patients who utilised the MSK triage service has been extremely positive. The pilot has been very successful and we see approximately 6% to 8% of the GP’s workload. In our role we are able to effectively signpost to NHS services as appropriate, provide self-care strategies, and provide onward referral to the GP in the necessary cases. We are in early discussions around how we may roll this successful initiative out to other surgeries across Dorset and Hampshire.” 

"This is not a unique example. Primary Care make use of First Contact Practitioners from paramedics, to pharmacists to physiotherapists; the only difference is that chiropractors are a new, untapped workforce that will not fill one gap and to only leave another.”

The University College’s model at the Grove Surgery allowed students to gain academic experience by shadowing and observing. Recent AECC University College graduates have replicated the success of this service elsewhere in the UK, in places such as Winchester.

Discover more about our clinic services, including our Chiropractic Clinic, or learn more about how you could study and train to become the next wave of chiropractors set to make a difference to people’s lives.