‘We can't escape fundamental shortfalls in funding and workforce planning’ says College Chair

College Chair, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, featured in Pulse commenting on the number of practices which were unable to allocate staff time and resources to the General Practice Improvement Plan. Professor Hawthorne said:

"It's both ironic and concerning to hear that an initiative introduced to assist GP teams to improve patient access can't be fully utilised because of the fundamental shortfalls we're facing in workforce and capacity. It's a real Catch-22 situation.

“GPs and other team members are working above and beyond to ensure they meet the growing demand for patient care, but this means many simply don't have enough time to receive additional training and support sessions. We had our busiest November on record last year, delivering more than 31 million appointments – a 30% increase from the end of 2019, yet with 646 fewer fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs. It’s common for GPs to deliver over 50 patient consultations per day, whilst also handling a raft of bureaucratic responsibilities to boot. 

"The GPIP should be a helpful support tool for GPs and their teams but the fact that many practices don't have capacity to benefit from it shows that we can't escape fundamental shortfalls in funding and longstanding failures in workforce planning. It is especially concerning that the practices most in need of the support offered by the GPIP – those struggling to meet high volumes of complex presentations - are the ones least likely to have spare capacity to implement it. To ensure that general practice continues to develop and to deliver the highest quality of care, we need to see resources and time set aside for digital transformation and continued professional development.

“Our recent manifesto outlines seven solutions – including appropriate resource allocation for recruitment and retention - that will help improve patient access to safe and timely care and ensure that there are enough GPs to safeguard the future of general practice and the wider NHS.”

Further information

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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.