GP access recovery plan not the silver bullet that we desperately need - says College Chair

Responding to initial details of the GP access recovery plan, announced by the government today, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "GPs and our teams want to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care for our patients, and we get as frustrated as they do when they struggle to access our services. When this happens, it is not the fault of GP teams who are delivering 6% more appointments than before the pandemic, with almost half offered on the same day they are booked, but with 852 fewer GPs than in 2019. GP practices already aim to see all emergencies on the same day they call us.

“Investment into improved telephony systems in general practice with sufficient numbers of trained people to use them is one part of the jigsaw in improving access, and it is something the College has called for and welcomes. We await further details of the full access recovery plan, but ultimately the best way to improve access to GP care and address the intense workload and workforce pressures GP teams are working under, is to increase numbers of fully trained, full-time equivalent GPs through effective recruitment and retention schemes. 

“The public need to be aware of what’s achievable. Politicians think that promising faster access will improve services and win votes, but many practices are already struggling for lack of GPs and other clinical staff, particularly in communities with large numbers of patients with complex needs and disproportionate health inequalities. We need thousands more GPs, as we were promised at the last Election in 2019, so that we can look after the increasing numbers of patients who need our care - and we look to the long-awaited NHS workforce plan with anticipation, to see how this will be achieved."

Further information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633

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.