General practice reduces pressures across NHS – but must be resourced and staffed to fulfil this function

Responding to a survey from the i newspaper linking GP access to A&E pressures, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

"General practice is the foundation of the NHS, with GPs and our teams making the vast majority of NHS patient contacts - and, in doing so, alleviating pressures elsewhere in the health service, including in A&E. But it must be properly resourced and staffed to fulfil this function.

"At the moment, GPs and our teams are working under intense workload and workforce pressures. We are delivering many more consultations every month than before the pandemic. We’re seeing increased rates of flu, strep and other winter illnesses. And the care we’re delivering is more complex than ever. Yet there are 737 fewer fully-qualified, full time equivalent GPs working in the NHS since 2019. This is unsustainable, and it is unsafe for patients and staff. And when one part of the NHS is under pressure, it reverberates across the system.

“There are many reasons for the pressures our colleagues working in Emergency Departments are facing, for example a shortage of hospital beds, but we must be clear that pressures are being felt across the NHS, including in general practice. It’s vital this is recognised and addressed. This is why we’ve been calling on Government for a bold new workforce plan, to address recruitment and retention issues in general practice that goes beyond the 6,000 more GPs that we’re promised in their manifesto. And, for steps to be taken to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy in general practice, that takes GPs away from delivering patient care.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

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.