There are simply not enough GPs to deliver the care and services we are trained for, says Royal College
Publication date: 28 March 2023
Responding to the British Social Attitudes Survey from The Kings Fund and The Nuffield Trust, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: "General practice is the bedrock of the NHS but there are simply not enough GPs or other members of practice staff to deliver the care and services we are trained for - and the impact of this on patients is reflected in today's report.
"The report shows three key reasons for dissatisfaction with the NHS are long waiting times, staff shortages, and that the Government does not spend enough on the NHS. These are all serious concerns affecting the general practice workforce, as well, and we would urge decision makers to listen to the public and address them.
"We share our patients' frustrations - highlighted in this report - when they struggle to access our services, and most understand that we are trying our best to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care, whilst working under intense workload and workforce pressures. We know from the last GP patient survey, that once patients secure an appointment, the vast majority are satisfied with the care they receive.
"GPs and our teams make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and in doing so we reduce pressure across the NHS, including in A&E. Without general practice, the rest of the NHS will collapse, yet the latest data for England shows that numbers of fully qualified, full time equivalent GPs continue to fall - by 852 since 2019, while our workload has risen by 9%. In some areas a qualified GP is now responsible for more than 2,500 patients.
"The crisis in general practice is not the fault of dedicated GPs, it is a result of decades of underfunding and poor workforce planning. But it is not too late to turn this dire situation around. The forthcoming primary care recovery plan and long-awaited NHS workforce plan will be key opportunities to do this, and we hope they will deliver what is needed to reverse public opinion.
"Ultimately, we need to see a bold new plan from the Government that goes beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs it pledged in its election manifesto, as well as significant investment in GP practices and IT systems to make it easier for patients to access care. Government must also take steps to cut bureaucracy so that GPs have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it.”
RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633
Notes to editor
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.