Building and retaining GP workforce must be key in NHS long-term plan, says RCGP

Publication date: 15 November 2018

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to a workforce briefing by The King's Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust, which says staffing shortfalls could pose a major risk to the NHS long-term plan.

She said: "Given the intense pressures currently facing our NHS, it frankly comes as little surprise to hear that an impending workforce shortfall will put the forthcoming NHS long-term plan at risk, if it is not comprehensively and effectively addressed from the outset.

"Workforce shortages are, as this report shows, being felt right across the NHS – and general practice is no different. Workload in our profession has escalated over the last few years in both volume and complexity, but our workforce is actually falling. We are currently short of at least 6,000 GPs in England, and if this isn't addressed, it is our patients who will ultimately bear the brunt by not being able to see their GP when they need to.

"GPs and our teams make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and in doing so we alleviate pressures from other areas of the NHS, where care is more expensive. The long-term plan – underpinned by a coherent, properly-funded workforce strategy - must recognise and address the adverse impact workforce pressures are having on our profession and the care we are able to deliver to our patients in the community.

"GP trainee numbers are at an all-time high, but it takes 10 years to train a family doctor from entering medical school and efforts to bolster our workforce for today's patients are falling short of expected targets, leading to ever-increasing waiting times, burnt out GPs, and quality of care being put under threat.

"As well recruiting more doctors, we also need schemes to reduce the unnecessary and bureaucratic workload GPs are currently facing, and retain experienced GPs in the profession, not only for the benefit of our patients, but to also help teach and nurture the next generation of general practitioners.

"We need to see NHS England's GP Forward View, which promises an extra £2.4bn a year and 5,000 more GPs, delivered in full, as well as our additional ask of another £2.5bn a year as part of the forthcoming NHS long-term plan, to be delivered as soon as possible, to alleviate pressure elsewhere in the health service and fundamentally, keep our patients safe."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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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