Most patients report good experiences of GP care, but pressures must be addressed to improve - RCGP responds to ONS data

College Vice Chair Dr Margaret Ikpoh responds to the latest ONS data on patient experiences of GP practice access. 

“We know how much our patients value the care that GPs and our teams offer, and we share their frustrations when they struggle to access it when they need to.  

"Despite years of underfunding and poor workforce planning, hardworking GP teams are still managing to provide a positive experience for most patients, with nearly two thirds stating that their experience of general practice was good. But we want these numbers to be much higher – as GPs, our priority is to ensure all patients receive safe, timely and appropriate care, but our teams are stretched to breaking point. 

“We delivered almost 30.5 million appointments in February – almost 5.46 million more than in February 2019, yet with 3% fewer fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs. The average number of patients per fully-qualified GP continues to rise and is now 2,298. We simply don’t have enough GPs to keep up. We can’t keep doing more with less – and as today’s figures show, it’s our patients feeling the impact most.

“General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, making the majority of patient contacts and keeping people out of hospital where care is more expensive - but it needs significant investment, and urgent efforts to both retain existing GPs in the workforce and recruit more, or this situation will continue to get worse. Our own polling has shown that more than three quarters of the public (78%) support more funding for general practice if it would reduce appointment waiting times, with 84% believing the next government should increase the number of GPs to make it easier to book an appointment. Ahead of the General Election, all political parties need to take heed.”

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.