College response to Labour Party announcement on GP access

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs want to do the very best for their patients, and we share their frustrations when they find it difficult to get appointments when they need them. GP access is important, but it is only a starting point to ensuring our patients receive the safe, personalised, and appropriate care they need. What we really need to address are the huge workload and workforce pressures that are the real reason why patients are facing such long waits to see a GP.

“GPs and our teams are delivering more patient consultations every month than before the pandemic with around 45% of those delivered on the same day they were booked, and around two thirds delivered in person according to the latest figures.

“The College has always said that post-pandemic, patients should be able to access GP care and services in a variety of ways depending on their health needs and preferences. This is already happening. Many patients will prefer to see their GP in person, but many also find remote consulting convenient and effective, and we know that good, safe and appropriate care can be delivered remotely.

“More patients are seen in general practice than anywhere else in the NHS, but NHS pressures are not confined to hospitals and our service is struggling more than ever before. GPs and our teams are carrying out more consultations, delivering ever more complex care, yet with more than 1,500 fewer qualified, full-time equivalent GPs than in 2015.

“Ultimately, we need to see the implementation of 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 health spend, investment in our IT systems and premises, and steps to cut bureaucracy so that we can spend more time delivering the care our patients need and deserve.”

Further information

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.