General practice 'busier and busier' as winter approaches, figures show

Responding to the latest NHS Digital figures on GP consultations;

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams are busier and busier as we head into what is likely to be an extremely challenging winter. More than 30m patient consultations were made in general practice in England in October - in addition to continued involvement in the Covid vaccination programme - nearly 2m more than in September and nearly 7m more than in August, with almost two thirds delivered face to face.

“General practice was stretched to its limits before the pandemic, but the intense workload and workforce pressures have been exacerbated by the crisis. Today’s figures show GPs and our teams are working incredibly hard delivering safe, timely and appropriate care for patients, as well as two huge vaccination programmes to protect patients.

"Despite this, the size of the qualified full-time equivalent workforce fell by almost 6% between September 2015 and August 2021 while the number of patients has continued to grow meaning that the ratio of patients to GPs has increased by more than 10%. We are facing a workload crisis that risks negatively impacting patient care.

"This is why the Government needs to make good on its promise of an additional 6,000 GPs by 2024, which the Secretary of State has said is not on track to be met. Good work is ongoing to attract medical students to choose general practice, but we need to see robust plans to keep more experienced and highly-trained in the profession longer – and this needs to start by tackling ‘undoable’ workload – so we can continue delivering the care our patients need and deserve.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 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.