RCGP welcomes new study highlighting the importance of continuity of care

The Royal College of General Practitioners has responded to a new study from University of Cambridge showing having a ‘regular doctor’ can significantly reduce GP workload. Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown, Vice Chair, said:

"Continuity of care is highly valued by GPs and patients alike. We already know it is beneficial for patients, particularly those with complex health needs, and we know it has benefits for the NHS – and it’s encouraging to see that this study has found it can also improve GP workload. Studies such as this one are very important for informing future policy and practice. Currently, the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs are facing – as well as political agendas prioritising speedy access to GP services above all else - greatly limit the level of continuity we can offer. 

“The average number of patients per fully qualified GP is now 2,294, meaning each GP is, on average, responsible for 260 more patients than they were six years ago. This is unsustainable and makes guaranteed access to the same GP for every patient practically impossible. However, it would be important that continuity of care is prioritised for those who need it the most.

“Before we can offer greater levels of continuity, we need to address the clear gaps in our workforce - we've lost 642 fully qualified, full-time GPs in the past five years - and provide support for the myriad of other challenges the profession faces including the rising rates of patients presenting with chronic, complex health conditions.

“Our manifesto for the General Election outlines seven priorities for the next government – including funding for recruitment and retention - that will help improve patient access to safe and timely care, ensure there is capacity to offer continuity of care, and that there are enough GPs to safeguard the future of general practice. Resources must follow patient care and decision makers must recognise that we will need more support as demand for general practice intensifies in coming years.”

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

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.