Spring offers no let-up for GPs and their teams - our workload remains unsustainable, says College Chair

Responding to the latest NHS GP workforce and workload data, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: "We know from our members on the front line that general practice was pushed to crisis point last winter, and these statistics show that whilst GP teams are going above and beyond to ensure patients receive safe, timely and appropriate care, intense workload and workforce pressures are continuing well into the spring.

"More than 31.5 million patient consultations were delivered by GPs and our teams in March - 6.5% more than the same month in 2019 - with more than 43% on the same day they were booked. GP teams are clearly trying their absolute best, but they are doing so with 824 fewer fully-qualified, full time equivalent GPs than in December 2019.

"Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for problems which are decades in the making - we simply do not have enough GPs or other members of the practice team to meet escalating patient need for our care and services. Practices that serve communities with the greatest health needs, such as elderly populations and populations with health inequalities are particularly over-stretched. In some areas a qualified GP is now responsible for more than 2,500 patients.

“It is not too late to turn this dire situation around. The forthcoming primary care recovery plan and long-awaited NHS workforce plan will be key opportunities to do this.

"Ultimately, we need to see a bold new plan from the Government that goes beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs it pledged in its election manifesto, as well as significant investment in GP practices and IT systems to make it easier for patients to access 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, but the bottom line is that we need many more GPs.”

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.