Mevagissey’s GP Problem – There’s Just Not Enough Money In A Cornish Fishing Village


Given that this is all just a plot rerun of Doc Martin – perhaps without the unexpected pregnancy or the social incompetence – maybe we shouldn’t worry too much about Mevagissey and its shortage of anyone who actually wants to be the local GP. Sure, OK, usually when talking about Cornwall we’re going to blame everything on the inbred yokels across the Tamar thing but fishing villages don’t suffer from that. Far too many blokes coming in and out on a short term basis for the gene pool to be too small.

But a village still can be too small for certain activities there to be economic:

Last month the well-respected partner of the local practice, Dr Katherine James, announced she would be handing back her contract to run the surgery on 31 July. NHS England says it is assessing the options available, but it is feared the much-loved community surgery could close and its 5,300 patients forced to use the infrequent and expensive bus service to travel elsewhere for treatment.

Faced with this prospect, the residents of Mevagissey, which is eight miles south of St Austell, the nearest medium-sized town, took matters into their own hands. The “Will you be my GP?” campaign – with its #willyoubemygp hashtag – aims to persuade doctors around the country that they should make the picturesque fishing village, with its narrow winding streets and superior fish and chips, their home. In a campaign video posted on the Cornwall Channel, a crowd of residents chant: “Be our GP. We are a lovely community. We need you.”

Super, lovely, and what’s the actual problem? There’s no money in it.

There’re some 5,000 people in the catchment area. The NHS pays £150 per patient per year.

Woo! £750 grand a year, who wouldn’t be a GP for that? Except, obviously, that’s not actually what is on offer. That’s the income to the practice. There are some outgoings:

Dr Katherine J James
BM (Partner) Qualified in 1995 at Southampton. She is married with three children. Her clinical interests are general medicine and she enjoys getting to know both individuals and families. Outside of work she enjoys gardening, walking and music. Dr Rob Hutchinson
MRCGP MB BS (Salaried GP) Joined the practice in 2015 as a locally trained GP. He lives with his wife, three young children and cat, and enjoys family activities and the odd bit of cycling. Dr Hutchinson gained additional experience in hospital medicine prior to becoming a GP and is now developing an interest in health inequality. Dr Laura Ashton
Dr Penelope Heywood
Dr Emmeline Maguire

And that doesn’t leave much money:

All GP practices are required to declare the mean earnings (e.g. average pay) for GPs working to deliver NHS services to patients at each practice. The average earnings for GPs working in Mevagissey Surgery in the last financial year was £40,384 before tax and National Insurance. This is for 3 part-time GPs and 4 locum GPs who worked in the practice for more than six months.

You’ve also got to add in the practice nurse(s), buildings, equipment and all the rest.

Actually, what Mevagissey is asking for is not a GP at all. But a GP partner. Someone willing to come run a small business which doesn’t produce much of a profit nor income for the person running it. Not that much of a surprise they’ve got to look around a bit to find one, is it?