GP patient survey reflects ‘overstretched’ service working under intense and unsustainable pressure

Responding to the latest GP Patient Survey, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“These findings reflect an over-stretched service, with GPs and our teams doing our best for patients under intense workload and workforce pressures.

“It’s never easy to hear patients reporting unsatisfactory experiences of receiving general practice care, or that they are having difficulties accessing our services. Ultimately, GPs, our teams and patients want the same thing: access to high quality and timely care. And we share patients’ frustrations when this can't be delivered. This is why we are calling on the Government to introduce a bold new plan for general practice.

"GPs and our teams are working flat out to deliver increasingly complex care to the rising numbers of patients that need it. More consultations are consistently being delivered every month than before the pandemic in general practice. More than 27m were delivered in May alone, and over 44% of these on the same day they were booked. But while the complexity and intensity of GP workload is ever-growing, numbers of full-time, fully qualified GPs has fallen by 1,737 from September 2015 to May 2022. Put simply, GPs don’t have the time or resources to deliver the type of care they want to deliver for their patients.

“Given these pressures, it’s remarkable and a testament to hardworking GP teams that over 90% of patients surveyed felt that their needs were met during their consultation. 93% continue to have confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they saw.

“Working at this intensity is unsustainable and it’s taking its toll on GP teams, who are burning out and feeling forced to evaluate their future commitment to general practice. Sadly, this is likely to get worse. *A recent College survey of GPs and trainees suggested nearly 19,000 GPs could leave the profession over the next five years, with many citing stress and working hours as reasons for leaving.

“Our patients deserve better. That’s why the College has launched our Fit for the Future campaign. It calls on government to address the spiralling workload and workforce pressures in general practice, and ensure it becomes sustainable for the future. We are calling on the government for urgent action to improve patients' experiences, including investment into IT and booking systems. This is alongside a new recruitment and retention strategy that allows us to achieve and go beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs. We also need to see a reduction in unnecessary bureaucracy, so that GPs can spend more time delivering care to patients.

"Today's findings must not be used as an opportunity to denigrate already-demoralised hardworking GPs and our teams. Instead, it's a wake-up call to Government and policymakers to take heed of our campaign asks. And, to sufficiently support GPs and our teams to deliver safe, timely, and personalised care to all patients.”

Further information

*Survey results extracted from RCGP annual tracking survey, comprised of 1,262 GPs and RCGP members working in England. Fieldwork conducted between March 3rd and April 4th, 2022, and results are weighted by age, region and career stage.

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.