Increase GP numbers to address workforce crisis, says RCGP

Responding to recommendations made by the GMC in their report The state of medical education and practice in the UK: workforce report 2022, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said "GPs and our teams are working under intense workload and workforce pressures, and we are keen to explore solutions to this.

"GPs already lead multi-disciplinary teams, including nursing staff, physios, pharmacists, link workers and other healthcare professionals, all working together to ensure patients receive the most appropriate care for their health needs. The College is currently undertaking some scoping work for our UK Council to consider whether doctors who have not completed GP specialty training could potentially work in general practice safely and effectively, in the best interests of patients and without creating unintended consequences on workload.

"We would need to see more detailed proposals from the GMC about how SAS-grade doctors could work in general practice and integrate with existing teams, and the College should be part of discussions around this potential role. What is clear is that SAS-grade doctors, like other members of the wider practice team, must not be seen as a replacement for GPs who are expert medical generalists and have completed their three-year training programme and have been assessed on their specialist clinical and communication skills required to practise independently as a GP in the UK.

"Ultimately, expansion of the wider practice team must not be seen in isolation as a solution to the chronic shortage of GPs, especially when it is GPs who supervise their work. The volume, complexity and intensity of GP workload is ever-growing, yet the number of fully qualified GPs is falling. This is why the College has launched our Fit for the Future campaign calling on the Government to address the spiralling workload and workforce pressures in general practice, including a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by the government in their election manifesto.

“We also want investment into IT and booking systems and a reduction in unnecessary bureaucracy so that we can spend more time on frontline patient care, and those patients who really need to see a GP are able to do so.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 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.