Good progress on efforts to expand wider practice team – but pledge to boost GP numbers mustn’t be forgotten

Responding to the Government’s announcement that it has met its target to employ 26,000 primary healthcare professionals in general practice, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “General practice is a multi-disciplinary service, with patients receiving good and appropriate care from a wide range of clinical staff, including GPs, nurses and pharmacists. It is positive to see efforts to expand the wider practice team realised, and patients will certainly benefit, but there was another pledge in the Government’s 2019 manifesto - for 6,000 more GPs by 2024 - and on this, things have gone backwards.

"GPs and our teams are working to our limits to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care, in the face of intense workload and workforce pressures. We are delivering millions more appointments than before the pandemic, with almost half offered on the same day they are booked - but with 852 fewer fully-qualified GPs compared to 2019.

“We are now at the stage where GPs are so over-stretched, that more than two thirds are concerned they can't guarantee safe patient care. This is leading to burnout and GPs leaving the profession before they planned to. College surveys suggest as many as 22,000 GPs could leave the profession in the next five years, many citing stress and burnout for reasons.

“The only true solution to the crisis facing general practice is to increase numbers of fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs, both in the short and long terms by training and then retaining them. 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: 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.