More than 170 city GPs have admitted the primary health care system in MK is ‘overwhelmed’ and in a crisis of soaring demand, the Citizen can reveal.

The depressing diagnosis has come as more patients complain of long waits for appointments with GPs and even struggles to get phone calls to surgeries answered.

The strain on the system was highlighted this week in the annual report from the MK Clinical Commissioning Group, set up a year ago to buy healthcare services for the entire NHS area.

There are 179 GPs spread across 27 practices in the Milton Keynes CCG area.

Their joint message in the annual report stated: “As GP members we are totally supportive of the difficult challenges that the CCG faces.

“Our primary care system is also overwhelmed and in a crisis in terms of rising demand and difficulty in recruitment to meet this demand.”

But the GPs were optimistic that they could work with the commissioning group to ‘co-design’ services to deliver a better system in the future.

“We need to continue the work to find new and better ways that will really improve patients experiences and outcomes,” they wrote.

Already the CCG is striving to ease the workload of GPs, A&E and hospital staff.

It has introduced a referral management system (RMS) that ensures patients are seen in the right place at the right time.

It has also launched a ‘minor injuries locally enhanced service’ to allow some surgeries to treat less serious injuries without referring to A&E.

Meanwhile a high impact team (HIT) acts as a bridge between doctors and care homes to support keeping patients at home rather than sending them to hospital.

Bletchley GP Dr Nicola Smith, who chairs the MK CCG, said the first year had been ‘challenging’, particularly for doctors and nurses doing front line work under considerable pressure due to ever-increasing demand.

She told the Citizen: “Delivering high quality care will become even harder to achieve in the future and more needs to be done.

“We recognise the need for a fundamental rethink and the Milton Keynes healthcare review is an exciting opportunity for us all to decide what our system should look like in the future and to take advantage of new ways of working and new innovations in health.”