‘More GPs are the solution to safe patient care' says College

Responding to the latest Pulse survey on the impact of rising patient numbers in general practice, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:

'No two appointments in general practice are the same and patient contact numbers will vary depending on which clinical healthcare staff member is seeing the patient, practice and patient circumstances, and clinical judgement.  Practices will manage this in the best way they can, based on their knowledge of their local patient population.  However, there comes a point where demand exceeds capacity and GPs can no longer guarantee safe care to their patients, so we urgently need to find a range of solutions to this.

‘GPs and their teams are working harder than ever to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care for patients. We are delivering millions more appointments than before the pandemic, with almost half offered on the day of booking - but with 970 fewer fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs than we did in 2019. The average number of patients per single GP continues to rise with some family doctors now responsible for more than 2,500 and this is not sustainable or safe.

‘These pressures cannot continue to mount. GPs need to be able to practice safely and effectively, in the best interests of their patients and in the best interests of their own health to avoid burnout.

"That's why we need to see the promises in the NHS Workforce Plan delivered. The plan pledges to train more medical students and outlines plans to increase capacity in GP training. But more GPs are leaving the profession than entering it right now, so an urgent focus on retention schemes for GPs is imperative - we can't wait much longer.

‘We need urgent, significant investment in retention initiatives to encourage existing GPs to stay in the profession, as well as steps to cut bureaucracy so that GPs have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it.’

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.