GP numbers falling while patient numbers rise is making workload ‘unsustainable’, says College

Responding to research published by the Lib Dems showing that on average every GP is responsible for 2,200 patients, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“The size of the qualified GP workforce is falling whilst numbers of patients - and complexity of care being delivered in general practice - continue to grow. As a result, the ratio of patients to GPs has increased significantly over recent years. Over 30 million consultations were delivered in general practice in March, and we are seeing appointment levels consistently exceeding pre-pandemic levels. General practice is under doctored, underfunded, and overstretched, and while the problem is nationwide, these figures show some areas are feeling it more than others as they face greater difficulties recruiting new GPs. 

"GPs are just as frustrated as patients when they hear about difficulties accessing services. We want to be able to consistently give their patients the timely, appropriate and high-quality care they need, regardless of where they live. But the intense workload and workforce pressures facing GPs and their teams is unsustainable. Good work has been made to recruit newly qualified doctors into general practice, but when more GPs are leaving the profession earlier than planned, often to protect themselves from burnout, we're fighting a losing battle.

"The Government urgently needs to make good on its manifesto promise of 6,000 more GPs, and 26,000 more members of the practice team, by 2024. We also need to see comprehensive plans to keep highly trained, experienced GPs in the workforce for longer, and this needs to start by addressing unsustainable workload and giving GPs more time to care for patients.”

Further Information

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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 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.