No known evidence linking long A&E waits to GP access

In response to media reports in the Daily Telegraph and on Mail Online, linking long A&E waits to GP access, Dr Gary Howsam, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "General practice, like the rest of the NHS, is under intense and unsustainable pressure. More than 25m patient consultations were delivered in general practice in April alone with over 45% being delivered on the same day they were booked and 63% seen in person. GP teams are working to their absolute limits, consistently making more patient consultations every month than in the same month pre-pandemic.

"Reasons for mounting pressures on A&E are many, including lack of beds and the crippling workforce shortages that are affecting the entire NHS, but we’re unaware of any hard evidence that significantly links them to GP access. Far from intensifying pressures on Emergency Departments, GPs and our teams make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and in doing so we alleviate pressures elsewhere in the health service, including A&E.

“We share our patients’ frustrations when they find it difficult to access our care and services. But when this happens, it is the result of escalating workload coupled with falling numbers of fully qualified, full-time GPs. This is not safe for patients, GPs or our teams. The Government needs to make good on its promise of 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the practice team by 2024 – as well as introducing measures to tackle ‘undoable’ workload in general practice, so GPs teams have the time and resources to sustainably deliver high-quality care and services to patients.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 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.