Charging for GP appointments would have the biggest impact on vulnerable patients, says College Chair

Responding to an Ipsos MORI poll that showed patients put off seeking care due to access issues, as well as public support for charges for missed GP appointments, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, RCGP Chair said: "We would always ask patients who no longer need a GP appointment to let their practice know as soon as possible, so that the time can be offered to other patients. However, the College does not agree with charging patients for missed appointments. This would have the biggest impact on our most vulnerable patients and only increase the administrative burden on GPs and their teams who are already working under immense pressures. Who would police this, and make sure patients paid up? 

"It’s as frustrating for GPs and our teams as it is for our patients, when people have difficulty accessing our care and services. We want to be able to provide safe, timely and appropriate care to our patients when they need it. But decades of underfunding and poor workforce planning has left general practice in crisis. In 2022, GPs delivered 340 million appointments, nearly 9% more than in 2019, while on average the size of the workforce has fallen by 754 since 2019. The College's own surveys show that 42% of GPs report considering leaving the profession in the next five years, often citing workload and workforce pressures as their reason.

“This is why the College is calling on Government to implement a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs it pledged in its election manifesto, as well as investment in GP practices and IT systems to make it easier for patients to access appropriate care. Government must also take steps to cut bureaucracy so that GPs have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it.”

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.