RCGP response to BBC story on repeat A&E attendees

Publication date: 08 January 2014

The RCGP has responded to BBC research showing that some patients are attending A&E departments up to 50 times a year.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Patients who repeatedly attend A&E for problems that could be dealt with by other NHS services is a challenging issue, but to blame GPs for avoidable A&E visits is inaccurate, misguided and unfair.
 
“GPs currently make 90% of NHS patient contacts for a record low of only 8.39% of the overall NHS budget against the backdrop of a population increase brought about by a baby boom and a rise in the old and very old.
 
“General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS, providing highly cost-effective patient care, yet recent RCGP research shows that GPs routinely work 11-hour days making up to 60 patient contacts in a single day. This is not sustainable or safe, with another RCGP survey revealing nearly half of GPs feel they can no longer guarantee safe care to their patients, and 70% forecasting longer waiting times for appointments in the next two years if the resources crisis continues.
 
“We recognise the struggle patients are facing trying to get an appointment with their family doctor but there is no slack in the system. GPs are already working at full capacity and taking on more work without extra investment and more GPs will be impossible.
 
“This is why the RCGP has launched our campaign Put patients first: Back general practice in collaboration with the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) calling for an increase in funding for general practice to 11% by 2017, a modest increase of just 1% per year.
 
“GPs want to provide more high quality care to patients in the community where patients want and need it most.  More resources for general practice, including more GPs, would allow us to provide more services for patients, increase access to existing services, and relieve pressure on other parts of the NHS.“

Further Information

RCGP Press office - 020 3188 7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 49,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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