‘Exceptional’ general practice works well for patients, the NHS, and the taxpayer, says College in response to Times article

The College has responded to an article in today’s Times newspaper (29 January) speculating on the future of general practice.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, delivering the majority of NHS care close to home where patients want it and where it is most cost-effective. It in turn alleviates pressures elsewhere in the service. GPs and our teams are delivering more patient consultations, with shorter waits, than before the pandemic. They are doing this alongside leading multiple mass vaccination programmes and in the face of intense workload and workforce pressures. 

"Looking into ways that the NHS can work more efficiently as a whole and can be sustainable for the future is a necessary exercise. This is especially considering how primary and secondary care can work better together to ensure patients have the best possible experience and outcomes of the health service. It is one that must recognise the current model of general practice – whereby GP practices have independent contractor status – is one that delivers exceptional benefits for the NHS. It allows GP teams to innovate in order to deliver tailored and optimal care to their local populations and is good value for money for the NHS. A recent independent review of the partnership model found it to be a viable one when resourced appropriately. We are open to exploring new ideas about the future of general practice, but there has to be a very good reason for changing a model that works well for patients, for the NHS and for the tax payer.

“The root of the pressures facing the general practice service, and the impact this is having on the care we’re able to provide for patients, is historic underfunding and poor workforce planning. Ultimately, no model of general practice will be sustainable without sufficient numbers of GPs and other practice staff. What needs radical thought is the Government’s plans to make good on its manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs and 26,000 additional practice staff by 2024. This will ensure GPs and our teams continue to deliver the care our patients need and deserve, now and in the future.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 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.