RCGP responds to Health and Social Care Committee Report on NHS backlog

Responding to the Health and Social Care Committee’s report “Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic”, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“The NHS backlog is impacting directly on the care of patients on waiting lists, as well as increasing pressure on all parts of the health service, not least general practice. Whilst patients are waiting for treatment or operations in secondary care, their health is under the care of GPs and our teams in the community.

“Current NHS pressures are not confined to hospitals. GPs and our teams have been at the forefront of delivering safe and appropriate care throughout the pandemic, ensuring patients receive the care and services they have needed whilst leading two complex mass vaccination programmes, and latterly the booster programme, in line with Covid restrictions. The latest figures from November show that more than 34 million patient consultations were delivered in general practice - the highest number on record.

“However, as serious and acute the problem of the Covid-related backlog is, the Committee is right in its report today that the key issues facing the NHS pre-date the pandemic. GPs and our teams were caring for patients under intense workload and workforce pressures before Covid, and the crisis has only exacerbated these.

“To this end, we welcome the Committee’s recommendation that robust workforce plans must be developed to keep general practice, and in turn the rest of the NHS, sustainable for the future. The Government promised 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more members of the practice team and it needs to make good on this. Good progress has been made in recruiting new GPs to the profession - we need to see this replicated in keeping highly trained and experienced GPs in the profession, and this must start by tackling undoable workload.

“The relentless and escalating workload is taking its toll on the health and wellbeing of GPs and our teams, so we are also pleased to see the Committee’s recommendation that plans to address this will be developed and published as a matter of urgency.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 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.