Without general practice, the rest of the NHS will collapse says College Chair

Responding to a report from the Office for National Statistics on the impact of winter pressures, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “GPs and their hard-working practice teams are working tirelessly to deliver safe and timely care for patients, but we simply do not have enough staff to meet demand that is growing in both volume and complexity.

"We share our patients' frustrations - highlighted in these figures - when patients struggle to access our care, and it's upsetting to hear that some are putting off booking an appointment all together. If people are unwell and need medical assistance, they should dial 111 or call their GP practice for help, and in a medical emergency situation, they should always dial 999.

"Most patients understand that GPs and our teams are doing their best to provide the right choice of appointments and deliver high-quality and appropriate care under unprecedented pressures. The College’s last GP patient survey showed that once patients secure an appointment, the vast majority are satisfied with the care they receive.

"Without general practice, the rest of the NHS will collapse, yet the latest data for England shows that numbers of fully qualified, full time equivalent GPs continue to fall - by 852 since 2019, while our workload has risen by 9%. In some areas a qualified GP is now responsible for more than 2,500 patients.

"The crisis in general practice is not the fault of dedicated GPs, it is a result of decades of underfunding and little or no workforce planning. But it is not too late to turn this dire situation around. The forthcoming primary care recovery plan and long-awaited NHS workforce plan will be key opportunities to do this. We hope these plans will contain the necessary resources to deliver what is needed to reverse public opinion.

"Ultimately, we need to see a bold new plan from the Government that goes beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs it pledged in its election manifesto, as well as significant investment in GP practices and IT systems to make it easier for patients to access care. Government must also take steps to cut bureaucracy so that GPs have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it, but the bottom line is that we need many more GPs.”

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.