More than 4,600 GPs demand Health Secretary takes action to address GP pressures that are impacting on patient care

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in England, Sajid Javid, needs to take urgent action to support GPs and their teams so that they can deliver the care patients need, more than 4,600 GPs and GP trainees are demanding.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, 4620 GPs and GP trainees have called on the Government to implement the College’s new plan to improve general practice in England. They say this is needed to address the surging workload and workforce pressures facing GPs and their teams that is impacting the care they are able to deliver to patients - and prevent a potential mass exodus of nearly 19,000 GPs from the service in the next five years, according to the latest data from a recent College survey of members.

The letter states: “GPs, retired GPs and GPs in training in England we are writing to ask you to take action in response to the RCGP's Fit for the Future campaign. General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS. It helps more patients than the rest of the NHS put together. So, when GPs and their patients say that general practice is in crisis, we should all be concerned.

“With 68% of GPs saying they don’t have enough time to adequately assess and treat patients during appointments, and 42% saying that they are planning to quit the profession in the next five years, it’s clear that many practices are already in crisis, and without action things are likely to get worse. That is why we are calling on you to commit to a bold new plan to provide GPs and patients with the support that they need.”

The RCGP’s Fit for the Future campaign is calling for the Government to commit to a plan to make general practice sustainable for the future, which should include:

  • A new recruitment and retention strategy that allows us to go beyond the target of 6000 more GPs
  • An NHS wide campaign to free up GPs to spend more time with patients by cutting unnecessary workload and bureaucracy
  • Improving patients’ experience of accessing care by investing in a new suite of IT products and support for practices, making it easier for patients to choose to see the same GP or the next available member of the team.
  • Returning funding for general practice to 11% of total health spend, including £1 billion additional investment in GP premises.

Commenting on the letter, Professor Martin Marshall, lead signatory and Chair of the RCGP, said: “GPs and our teams want to be able to deliver good, safe and appropriate care for our patients when they need it. But the volume, intensity and complexity of our workload is escalating whilst numbers of fully qualified, full-time GPs are falling. This is taking its toll on the health and wellbeing of GPs and the care and services we’re able to deliver for patients. It is forcing many to consider leaving the profession earlier than planned.

“This is why we’ve launched Fit for the Future. We’re making it very clear to Government what is needed to make general practice safe and sustainable, both for patients and GPs and our teams, now and in the future. This is the Secretary of State’s opportunity to hear the very real concerns our members have about working in general practice and the care they’re able to deliver – and act to provide the positive changes that will allow GPs to deliver the care our patients need, and the type of care that we want to deliver.

“We need to make being a GP sustainable again, for the sake of the NHS, and for the sake of patients. We urge politicians and decision makers to take heed of our campaign calls.”

Further information

Survey results extracted from RCGP annual tracking survey, comprised of 1,262 GPs and RCGP members working in England. Fieldwork conducted between March 3rd and April 4th, 2022, and results are weighted by age, region and career stage.

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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.