‘We must support areas of greater deprivation’, says College Chair

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, featured in Pulse responding to their investigation into the link between lower GP practice funding and the number of patients per staff.

Professor Hawthorne said: "This analysis echoes our wider concerns around the UK's growing health inequalities and the impact this will have on the delivery of patient care. We know that in more deprived areas there are fewer GPs per patient, leading to less ability to deliver continuity of care – despite the greater health needs of these communities. Clearly, the general practice funding structure is in dire need of review to ensure that we're supporting areas of greater deprivation, as we describe in our RCGP Manifesto.

“These results also reflect long held College concerns about the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), which we have been clear should be able to be used to recruit GPs.  Limiting the funding to members of the multi-disciplinary team, is seemingly leading some cash-strapped GP practices to make the difficult decision to take on more non-GP staff members, including physician associates, to deal with increasingly unmanageable workloads. But PAs are not GPs and should not be used to plug gaps in the workforce that have been created by years of underinvestment and poor workforce planning.

“The College has called on the Government to allow practices to use ARRS funds to recruit more GPs – we continue to lobby for this, and will be taking this up with the new Government from as soon as we can. But with the election so close, all parties must commit to substantially increasing our share of NHS funding to ease this constant pressure on general practice’s finances across the board.

“The College has set out clear red lines on the role of PAs working in general practice. They can't replace the work of GPs and can only work under supervision. We are currently analysing the results of the submissions of more than 5000 GPs who responded to our member consultation, and will be publishing them shortly.”

Further information

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Notes to editors

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.