College ‘waiting in hope’ that new Government will end years of general practice being ‘poor relation’ of the NHS

College Chair Kamila Hawthorne has said she is ‘really encouraged’ by new Health and Social Care Secretary Wes Streeting’s visit to a GP practice on his first full day in the role – and his commitment to increased funding for the family doctor service.

Professor Hawthorne said: "General practice is the bedrock of the health service, but it has been neglected for decades – hit by underfunding and poor workforce planning. It is really encouraging to see the new Health Secretary visiting a GP practice as his first visit to the NHS in his new role, and reiterating his commitment to increase funding for our service and the care we deliver to millions of patients every day. We now wait to see exactly what that funding and additional support will look like.

 “We know that far too many patients are waiting much too long to get an appointment with their GP, and we share their frustration and worries. The College has been calling for more funding for the ‘front door’ of the NHS for years, to ensure patients can access the safe and timely care they deserve. 

“More funding for care that can be delivered in the community is better for patients and better for the taxpayer – an appointment with a GP is much more cost effective than a visit to A&E. Properly funded primary care can help ease the pressure on the entire NHS and support our colleagues in overstretched secondary care. 

“Alongside this extra funding, we look forward to working with Wes Streeting and his team to ensure that we have the right balance of workforce we need to look after our patients, in particular we need more GPs working in our practices. We need to make sure we have the right plans in place to ensure we are training, recruiting and retaining enough GPs now and for the future.

“General practice has been struggling for years, but with the right action and investment we can turn things around, allowing GPs to deliver the holistic, continuous care that we are trained to provide and that our patients so desperately need. We hope that under this new Government, general practice will finally get the attention and support it deserves after years of being the poor relation of the NHS. Our patients deserve it, as do our hardworking GPs and their practice teams.”

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 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.