The trends we’ve seen over the past year can’t be allowed to continue, says College Chair

Responding to the latest data on general practice workforce and GP appointments, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:

“These latest figures show yet again the true extent of both the workforce and workload crises our GPs are having to cope with in their provision of safe, timely and appropriate care to their patients. Our teams have been working continuously under intense workload and workforce pressures in recent years, but the latest data shows just how serious these pressures have become.

“Demand for our services has grown significantly, we’re now dealing with over five million more appointments a month than in December 2019 – around 70% of which were carried out face to face – but with 977 fewer fully qualified, full-time GPs. The average number of patients per GP in England is now a staggering 2,302 - an increase equivalent to an extra 159 patients per GP since December 2019.

“GPs have seen the volume of their workloads snowball and have also seen the nature of appointments become more complex, with a growing number of patients needing care for multiple or chronic conditions. Many GPs are experiencing burnout, low morale and a sense of moral distress at not being able to offer patients access to much-needed care. We know that when GPs do leave the profession earlier than planned, it is often due to the pressures of the role which results in a vicious cycle effect, whereby the workloads of those who remain in practice intensify. College surveys have shown that this cycle is likely to get worse, with many of our fully-qualified GPs considering leaving general practice in the next five years.

“While there is hope that this situation can be turned around, it is evident that general practice is being pushed closer towards the precipice. The government’s recent workforce plan is an opportunity to address some of the most pressing issues, but we need to see it enacted as an absolute priority, including significant investment for improved retention initiatives to curb the rate at which GPs are leaving the profession and encouraging the next generation of GPs into the workforce. The trends we’ve seen over the past year can’t be allowed to continue if we want general practice to survive and our patients to receive the care they need and deserve – we need immediate action.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

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.