Urgent support needed for general practice to get through winter, says RCGP

Responding to the latest measures set out by NHS England to address forthcoming winter pressures in the health service, Dr Gary Howsam, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The entire NHS is facing an incredibly difficult winter ahead. We certainly support measures to ease pressures facing colleagues in hospitals and improve patient access to these services during this time, but we also need to see more being done to help general practice get through what is likely to be a very tough period.

“GPs and our teams are already working under intense workload and workforce pressures. We're delivering more patient consultations every month than before the pandemic, with falling numbers of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent GPs. Winter pressures will not be confined to hospitals, and we need measures to be taken to ensure patients can continue to receive the care and services they need from general practice, whilst keeping staff safe, throughout.

“GPs are increasingly working with other professionals in general practice, and these colleagues provide invaluable services for patients. But increasing numbers of new roles is not a short-term solution to pressures: they need time and support to embed properly in the service.

“We need to see urgent support for general practice ahead of winter. This needs to include immediate action to stop unnecessary bureaucracy, so that GPs can focus on delivering patient care. We also want to see investment to support rapid implementation of retention schemes available to those at high risk of leaving the workforce. This is alongside the expansion of coaching and mentoring services available to all individuals working in general practice.

“Longer term, we need the Government to heed the calls of our Fit for the Future campaign to address the spiralling workload and workforce pressures in general practice. We want to see a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by government in their election manifesto. Plus, investment in our IT systems and steps to cut bureaucracy, so that we can deliver the safe high-quality care that 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.