GPs and our teams can’t work any harder – we need more doctors and more time to care, says College Chair

College Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne has responded to figures out today from the Lib Dems claiming that patients in some parts of the country are waiting up to four weeks for a GP appointment. Our full statement is below.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "No patient should ever have to wait this amount of time for an appointment, regardless of where they live, and we share our patients' frustration and distress when they struggle to access our care.

“But the truth is that GPs and our teams cannot work any harder – we are delivering more appointments overall compared to before the pandemic. Around 85% of appointments in general practice are already happening within two weeks of being booked, and almost half are delivered on the day they are booked – yet we have nearly 900 fewer full-time fully qualified GPs compared to 2019.

“The current pressures in general practice are through no fault of hardworking GPs and their teams, but due to years of underfunding and poor workforce planning in our family doctor service. GP teams make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts, and in doing so alleviate pressure across the NHS, including in A&E. But for this to work, general practice must be properly resourced and properly staffed - and currently that is not the case.

“The recently announced NHS Workforce Plan pledges to train more medical students and outlines plans to increase capacity in GP training. But we also need significant investment in retention initiatives so that existing GPs are encouraged 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.