‘GPs are trying to do their very best for patients’, says College Chair

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the latest NHS data on patient complaints in primary care.

She said: “This is sad and troubling to hear, but we are not surprised that a substantial number are related to difficulties in accessing GP care and long waits for appointments. Patients should be able to see a GP when they need one and we share their frustrations and worries when they struggle to get appointments. The unfortunate reality is that our hardworking and committed GPs often end up the ‘fall guys’ for the government’s failure to appropriately resource and fund primary care.

“Everyone working in general practice is trying to do their very best for their patients, but in increasingly difficult circumstances. Our family doctor service has been allowed to wither on the vine for over a decade and we no longer have enough GPs to meet demand. 

“Last month, GPs delivered over 32 million appointments, a rise of nearly 5 million appointments per month from September 2019, all with 827 less fully qualified, full time GPs than in December 2019. The average number of patients per GP in England is now an overwhelming 2,296 - an increase equivalent to an extra 153 patients per GP since the end of 2019.  

“We have launched our new manifesto ahead of the General Election setting out the seven solutions we need to improve care for patients and safeguard the future of general practice and the wider NHS. As well as increasing the number of medical graduates going into GP training, we are calling on all the major political parties for a fully funded national retention scheme to encourage existing GPs to remain in the profession and measures to cut the amount of time that GPs have to spend on bureaucracy. 

“We hope that our patients will get behind us and support our calls in the run-up to the General Election. Our patients and the dedicated teams working in general practice deserve more.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

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.