Latest general practice consultation figures in England

Responding to the latest general practice consultation figures in England, Professor Martin Marshall said the following.

“Today's figures highlight just how extremely hard GPs and our teams are working, caring for patients in their communities and alleviating pressures elsewhere in the NHS. More than 28m consultations were made in general practice in England in September, many on the same day they were requested - that's nearly 5m more than in August, and over 2m more than in the same month in 2019 before the pandemic. Of these, over 17.3m - more than six in 10 - were delivered in person, 3.7m more than in August.

"The College has always been clear that post-pandemic, when it is safe, we would like to see a blend of in person and remote care being delivered in general practice, and that how GP care is accessed should be a shared decision between patient and clinician. This is clearly already happening - yet the narrative that remote care is sub-standard prevails and is concerning. Good, safe and personalised care can be delivered remotely, and it is not confined to general practice. We are seeing a move towards more remote care across the NHS, and many patients prefer it as it can be more convenient and fit around other commitments, and some patients find it more comfortable to discuss aspects of their health remotely.

"Despite workload being higher than pre-pandemic levels, as today's figures show, general practice continues to face intense workforce pressures - something that yesterday's Budget failed to address. The size of the qualified GP workforce fell by almost 6% between September 2015 and August 2021, meaning that the ratio of patients to GPs has increased by more than 10%. GPs are burning out and working in conditions that are unsafe for their own health and that of their patients.

“We need the Government and health leaders to publicly support general practice – and the recent ‘rescue package’ doesn’t scratch the surface. Indeed, some of the measures announced are making some GPs seriously consider their futures in the profession. The Government urgently needs to make good on their manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs, and 26,000 members of the wider practice team, by 2024, and they need to start by tackling ‘undoable’ workload, to prevent burnout and enable GPs to continue doing what they do best – delivering high quality care to patients.”

Further information

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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.