‘Undoable’ workload must be addressed as GPs work ‘harder than ever’, says RCGP

Responding to the latest figures on GP consultations, published by NHS Digital today, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following. 

"GPs and their teams are reporting working harder than ever at the moment, and these figures from NHS Digital back this up. The figures show the massive pressure under which general practice is working and points to the challenges that GPs face every day to provide the care that patients want and need.

"GPs and their teams are at the forefront of helping communities recover from the pandemic, caring for patients whose physical or mental health has been directly or indirectly affected by the COVID-19; they are leading the COVID vaccination programme with 75% of vaccines delivered in primary care; they are supporting the backlog of patients on waiting lists for services elsewhere in the NHS; and they are delivering the care and services our patients rely on - as they have throughout the pandemic.

"Almost 5m more consultations were made in March than in February. More than 2.25m more consultations were made in March this year than they were pre-pandemic in 2019. More than half of these have been conducted face to face.

"Today's data doesn't account for most of the incredible work that has gone into delivering the COVID vaccination programme, with hundreds of thousands of patients being vaccinated in GP-led sites every day. It doesn't account for the significant increase in clinical admin work that our own data shows. And it doesn't account for complexity of the work, which has increased during the pandemic, with patients presenting an average of three problems at each consultation.

"General practice was facing intense workforce and workload pressures. The pandemic has only exacerbated these pressures. 

"We urgently need more GPs and other members of the practice team to manage increasing workload in general practice. Good progress has been made to encourage medical students to choose general practice, but we also need to see comprehensive plans to keep existing and experienced GPs in the workforce, protecting them from burning out by addressing ‘undoable’ workload, so that we can continue to deliver the high quality care that our patients rely on us for.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
Out of hours: 020 3188 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.