THE ageing workforce of Bury’s GP services has been described as a ‘ticking timebomb’ by health bosses.

While ageing patients present a real problem for the NHS, Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) members acknowledged the lack of young people entering the GP workforce, which had been highlighted during a borough-wide survey into the make up of practice staff.

A report from Rachele Schofield, the primary care manager, showed 26 per cent of the general practice workforce is over 55 years old.

Ms Schofield’s report says: “This gives a strong indication as to the proportion and number of staff who will be retiring in the next five to 10 years.”

Stuart North, the chief officer for the CCG said: “An ageing workforce is a ticking timebomb. I think we need to think about something specific to Bury in terms of building resilience.”

The committee agreed to work with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to address the matter as well as to work with local third parties to try to attract more GP staff to Bury.

The figures were gathered as part of a CCG project intending to use modelling software to find ways to improve the GP services and find ways of using resources differently.

Almost all GP services responded to a request from the CCG to provide anonymous data about their staffing levels and age ranges.

Ms Schofield’s report also said: “The figures also emphasise the disproportionate age of general practice staff compared to the population. An older profile is observed across GPs, as well as nursing and non-clinical staff.”

“A concern is the pressure an ageing workforce creates.”

Mr North noted: “We have a significant percentage of our non-clinical staff in general practice and our GPs that are part time. And we’re a bit above average for the numbers of GPs.

“Does that mean in total we have fewer GP hours? So one of the reasons there’s been an adaption to have more non-clinical staff is to maintain a sustainable service?"

The modelling system the CCG had planned to use was found not to be suitable.

However a Greater Manchester-led system is in the works and Ms Schofield told the primary care committee their data would still be used for that.