College calls for ‘more investment in general practice, not less’

Responding to Lib Dem research showing that funding for general practice has, in real terms, fallen by £350m since 2019, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: 

“General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, and investing in it leads both to better health outcomes for patients and delivers amazing value to the NHS. We now know that for every £1 invested in primary care, at least £14 is delivered in productivity across the working community – so it makes absolutely no sense that spending on general practice is falling in real terms.

“We need to see significantly more investment in our general practice service, not less – this is one of the key asks in our manifesto, which we want all political parties to take heed of as we approach the next General Election. It outlines seven solutions – including appropriate resource allocation for recruitment and retention - that will help improve patient access to safe and timely care, ensure there is capacity to offer continuity of care, and that there are enough GPs to safeguard the future of general practice and the wider NHS. As more and more services are relocated to primary care settings, resources must follow patient care. Decision makers must recognise that demand for general practice is only going to intensify in coming years.

“We also know that funding cuts in primary care adversely impact communities with higher rates of deprivation, worsening the situation for some of our most vulnerable patients. Across the NHS, we have seen health inequalities worsen over the past decade, and this has been felt even more so in recent years due to the cost-of-living crisis - a College survey found that 73% of GPs have seen an increase in patients presenting with conditions linked to poverty.

“GPs and our teams have just had the busiest November on record, with more than 31 million appointments delivered – a 30% increase on 2019, yet with 646 fewer fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs. The average number of patients per GP in England is now an eye watering 2,290, meaning each GP is responsible for 147 more patients than in December 2019.

“If, as the major political parties say, they want much more healthcare delivered in the community, including preventative care, this must be properly resourced to be successful.”

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

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.