Our patients and primary care services desperately need more GPs, says College Chair

Responding to the Shadow Health Secretary’s speech at the 2023 Labour Party Conference, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“The Shadow Health Secretary’s pledge to recruit more GPs and reduce red tape are important solutions we have been calling for. During August, general practice delivered 5m extra appointments for patients than in August 2019 – equating to 150,000 extra appointments per day – all with 883 fewer GPs than in 2019. Each GP in England is now responsible, on average, for 2,300 patients – an increase of over 150 patients from the end of 2019. 

“Patients need to be able to see a GP when they are ill, and we share their frustrations when they find it difficult to access our services. We need to see commitments to bold action for general practice that addresses the fundamental issues in workload and workforce – keeping GPs in the profession with improved national retention initiatives, greater and sustained recruitment to meet the growing demands for healthcare and reduced bureaucracy to free up GP time to focus on patients. Our patients and primary care services desperately need more GPs. 

“Without taking these actions, it’s hard to see how the vision set out for general practice today can be achieved, given the pressures we’re currently buckling under. 

“We have long been calling for politicians and policymakers to focus on prevention in the community – ensuring patients can get the information and support they need to stay healthy for longer and to get treatment before their conditions develop and they’re forced to seek help in secondary care – so the prioritisation of good public health alongside strong primary care is a promising step in the right direction. It will be vital for general practice to work in tandem with public health on this.

“We will shortly be launching our own manifesto for the next General Election, setting out what GPs and our patients need from the next government, and we look forward to working with all the major political parties to make these calls a reality.”

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.