Patients want timely care when they’re ill – they deserve more GPs, says College

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “When people are ill, they want timely care and attention and we cannot expect them to make clinical judgements about how ill they are, nor should we blame them if they access care in a place that might not be best to meet their needs.

“Unfortunately, the entire NHS is heaving under unsustainable pressures and patients are increasingly looking for any port in the storm. While some of the presentations to A&E may not be indicative of a medical ‘emergency’, conditions such as fevers – which saw a 44% increase in admissions over the last year - can be symptomatic of something more serious that needs the skill and expertise of a medical professional to diagnose and treat.

“As the front door of the NHS, GPs play a vital role in alleviating pressures from other services, but we are in the grip of a workload and workforce crisis and in desperate need of financial and staffing support if we are to continue keeping the NHS upright.

“We share our patients’ frustrations when they face long waits for a GP appointment but last month alone, general practice delivered 5 million extra appointments for patients than in August 2019 – equating to 150,000 extra appointments per day – all with 883 fewer GPs than in 2019.

“GP teams are working their hardest to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care - there simply are not enough of us to meet demand that is growing in both volume and complexity. We need urgent, significant investment in retention initiatives to encourage existing experienced 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.

“This would not just help general practice but also help reduce the pressures on A&E and the rest of the NHS. A strong general practice prevents the rest of the NHS from collapsing, but this is too often overlooked when it comes to funding and support. Our patients, our GPs and our colleagues working in the NHS deserve better.”

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.