Urgent rescue package and adequate staffing needed to keep general practice sustainable for the future

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs has responded to the Policy Exchange report ‘At your service’ published today.

He said: “The College agrees with Policy Exchange that a comprehensive rescue package is urgently needed for general practice. GPs and our teams are working harder than ever to deliver care and services for patients under intense workload and workforce pressures. Which as this report rightly acknowledges, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The College has long made the case that bureaucracy diverts GPs away from frontline patient care. Called for significant investment into premises and technology. Highlighted the ever-increasing workload and inequalities in access to GP services across the country. All echoed by today’s report, and all which must be addressed.

“GPs are innovators and we are keen to explore new ideas and models of working that could address the pressures facing the profession and benefit patients, general practice and the wider NHS. 

“But we would advise caution against implementing wholescale changes to the way GP care and services are delivered, and how patients access them.

“Without properly piloting and evaluating such initiatives in terms of efficiency. Patient safety and how they impact on the long-standing trusted relationships between family doctors and their patients.

“We would also urge policymakers to recognise that current models of NHS general practice – including the partnership model – delivers exceptional benefits for the NHS. 

“The partnership model is good value for money and allows GPs and their teams to deliver tailored and optimal care to their local populations. 

“It needs support, but there would need to be a very good reason for changing a model that works well for patients, the NHS and the taxpayer.

“General practice keeps the health service sustainable and alleviates pressures across the NHS, but it is struggling and that is impacting on the care hard-working GPs and our teams are able to provide our patients. 

“The elephant in the room is staffing – more funding, better technology and better premises will only be impactful with sufficient numbers of GPs and other members of the team to deliver the care our patients need. 

“The Government needs to take radical action to expand the workforce. Deliver its 2019 manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs and 26,000 additional practice staff by 2024.

“This needs to include plans to keep existing, experienced GPs in the profession longer - so that GPs and our teams can continue to deliver the care our patients need and deserve, now and in the future.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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.