The public have a clear message for all political parties - prioritise general practice in your manifestos

College Chair Professor Kamila Hathorne has written the following op-ed in the Daily Express this morning, alongside a double-page spread detailing the pressures facing GPs and their teams and recent College polling showing public support for investing more in general practice.

Our patients are waiting too long to see us – and when they do, we don’t have enough time to give them the holistic care they need, and have the conversations that can really unlock the root of a health complaint.

We know how frustrating this is. We share our patients’ frustrations when they struggle to access our care and services. But this isn’t the fault of hard-working GPs and our teams. Years of poor workforce planning and inadequate funding has left general practice – the foundation of the NHS – withering on the vine.

Last November was the busiest on record for GP teams who delivered 31 million appointments, and whilst demand has grown, our workforce has shrunk - we've lost 642 fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs since the end of 2019. On average, GPs in England are now responsible for 2,290 patients – and extraordinary statistic.

We simply don't have enough GPs to meet escalating demand for our services. This has long been known in the health world, but the results of our polling, published today, shows that this is also evident to the public - who want to see politicians tackle the issue. 

Our poll found that more than 4 in 5 members of the public believe the next government must take action to solve the problems facing general practice, with 84% of those surveyed believing the next government should increase the number of GPs to make it easier to book an appointment. 

This should send a clear message to all political parties as they finalise their manifestoes ahead of the next General Election.

The public – our patients, and their voters - want to see credible and feasible plans to build the GP workforce, so they can access the safe, timely and appropriate care they need, and which we, as GPs, want to be able to deliver.

We are on the same side as our patients. And whilst the situation is dire, it isn’t beyond repair. 

We’ve published a manifesto, outlining what political parties can do to improve the situation, including introducing initiatives to recruit more GPs and retain the ones we have, investing in infrastructure so we can train the staff we need, and cutting bureaucracy so GPs can spend more time with patients. 

General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS with GPs and our teams making the vast majority of patient contacts for a fraction of the overall budget. Today’s poll makes me confident that the public recognises this, and they want their politicians to do so, as well. If they don’t, I think it is clear that voters will take heed of this.

Further information

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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.