Digital phonelines are a positive step but we’re in dire need of more GPs, says College Chair

Responding to the latest announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care to provide improved digital phoneline systems for general practice, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:

“GP practices will be pleased to see some practical improvements coming through from the long-awaited Primary Care Access Recovery plan, announced in May. An updated digital telephony system will be an asset to many practices who are currently working with outdated analogue systems which are hindrance to GPs, their reception staff, and patients. We all want an appointments booking system that is streamlined, efficient and allows GPs to focus on delivering care to their patients.

“However, while this is an encouraging step forward, there is still a long way to go, and we must not be under any illusion that this will resolve the fundamental challenges facing general practice. The bottom line is that we desperately need more GPs, so that we can offer the appointments that our patients need.

“GPs are working under the most enormous pressures and demand for our services is growing at the same time as our numbers are falling – there are more than 900 fewer GPs in England alone, than in 2019. Alongside the pledges to modernise outdated systems and attract more medical students into general practice, we desperately need to see concrete plans for improved retention initiatives that will encourage existing GPs to stay in the profession. New digital phonelines will be of little benefit to patients if there simply aren’t enough fully qualified GPs on the end of the line to provide appointments.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

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.