College hits back at Telegraph criticism of GPs

College Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne appeared in the Telegraph Letters to the Editor on Saturday, defending hardworking GPs and the daily challenges they face. You can read the letter in full here.

Sir – The sad fact is that the job of a full time GP is now largely unmanageable, and even working what is called 'part time' in general practice usually means working what would normally be considered by other people as full-time, or longer, and includes many hours of paperwork on top of patient appointments.

A GP 'day' often starts at 7:30am and finishes at 8pm, with paperwork on top of that, frequently done at home in the late evenings or at weekends. GPs often deal with up to 70 patients per day, and this is not safe for patients or for GPs. It is completely wrong to call this 'part-time' working and suggest our excellent graduates only want to work 'part-time'. General practice is a challenging profession, and needs to be made more attractive, but GP trainees need more time in general practice training, rather than hospitals.

Despite an encouraging rise in GP training numbers, more GPs are leaving our profession than entering it due to workload pressures. Last month, general practice delivered 5 million extra appointments for patients than in August 2019 – equating to 150,000 extra appointments per day – all with 883 fewer GPs than in 2019.

Our GPs deserve to work in a safe environment where they can provide excellent care to their patients without jeopardizing their own health and burning out. That’s why we need a fully funded national retention scheme, more funding to enable GP practices to recruit and employ more GPs, nurses and other members of the wider practice team, and measures to reduce the amount of time GPs are spending on bureaucracy when they want to be with their patients.

The NHS Workforce Plan includes plans for doubling the number of medical students and increasing the number of GP trainees by 50%, but this will take some years to bring to fruition, and we urgently need to work on retaining the excellent and experienced GPs we already have.

We should be applauding our hardworking and dedicated GPs and their teams, not criticising them or threatening to punish them for trying to protect their own health and wellbeing so they can keep their patients safe.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne,
Chair of the Royal College of GPs,
London NW1

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.