Difficulties in accessing GP services are not the fault of hardworking GP teams, College tells Labour Party

RCGP Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne has responded to today’s announcement from the Labour Party on access to GP services.

Professor Hawthorne said: “GPs and their teams are working flat out to deliver the care and services our patients need. We delivered a record 36.1 million consultations in October: almost 40% of these on the day they were booked, more than 80% within two weeks, and more than 71% in person.

“GPs want our patients to receive timely and appropriate care, and we share their frustrations when this isn’t happening. But difficulties accessing our services isn’t the fault of GP teams. It’s a consequence of an under-resourced, underfunded, and understaffed service working under unsustainable pressures. Whilst GP workload has increased by 18% since 2019, numbers of fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs has fallen by 719.

“Many GPs are running on empty and burning out. This isn’t safe for them or for their patients. And it’s leading many to face the difficult decision to leave the profession earlier than they planned. And when more GPs are leaving the profession than entering it, it does not bode well for the future.

“Highlighting problems patients are having accessing general practice services shouldn’t be done by criticising and demoralising hard-working GP teams, who are doing their absolute best in extremely difficult circumstances to meet the healthcare needs of their patients.

“Access to GP services is important, but it is only a starting point to ensuring our patients receive the safe, personalised, and appropriate care they need. Ultimately, we need more GPs, more members of the practice team, and serious efforts to reduce spiralling GP workload, so that we can deliver safe, appropriate and timely care for patients.

“We need to see a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by the Government in its election manifesto, funding for general practice returned to 11% of the total NHS spend, investment in our IT systems and premises, and steps to cut bureaucracy so that GPs can spend more time with patients.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633

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.