General practice is the backbone of the NHS

Read the College’s riposte to a Daily Mail article linking a rise in patients attending A&E with access to GP face to face appointments.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams, like colleagues right across the NHS, are working under intense pressures that have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Workload is escalating, yet GP numbers fell by 4.5% between September 2015 and March 2021, meaning that the ratio of patients to GPs has increased by almost 10%.

“It’s wrong to suggest that GPs and other members of our team aren’t seeing patients face-to-face. In person appointments have been available and facilitated throughout the pandemic, when they’ve been necessary. More than a million appointments are being made in general practice every day, almost half on the same day they are booked, and increasing numbers are being made in person - almost six in ten in August – all in line with infection control measures to keep patients safe.

“Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, care workers and others across primary and secondary care have worked to their limits over the last 18 months. Now they face what is likely to be an incredibly difficult winter, with the potential for a surge in Covid-19 and a likely sharp increase in other respiratory illnesses and flu – and GP teams will continue to play a leading role in delivering the flu and Covid vaccination programmes.

“When one part of the NHS struggles, it has direct consequences on other parts of the system. General practice is the backbone of the NHS, making the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and alleviating pressures elsewhere, including A&E - it needs to be sufficiently resourced and supported, so that it can continue to do so.

“GPs and our teams and our patients are on the same side - we want the same things: good, safe and appropriate access to general practice services. We need to see the Government make good on its promise of 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the practice team – as well as introducing measures to tackle ‘undoable’ workload in general practice.”

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.