Winter pressures are NHS-wide including in general practice, says RCGP

College spokespeople have been highlighting GP pressures in the media today. RCGP Chair Kamila Hawthorne has spoken to BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 4's World at One. Honorary Treasurer Steve Mowle has also spoken to BBC News Channel. Here's our statement on the issue:

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “NHS pressures are not confined to hospitals. GPs and our teams are working to our limits to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care to our patients this winter as we experience very high numbers of patients suffering with infectious illnesses such as flu and strep.

“But the pressures we’re experiencing aren’t seasonal – GPs and our teams are working under intense workload and workforce pressures all year round. Our workload is increasing in volume and complexity. We delivered 14% more consultations between November 2019 to November 2021. However, there are 737 fewer fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs working in the NHS since 2019, meaning that on average a full time GP is caring for 120 more patients.

“We share our patients’ frustrations they struggle to access GP care and services. But this isn’t the fault of GP teams, who are working exceptionally hard in very difficult circumstances to deliver patient care. It is a consequence of decades of under-funding and lack of workforce planning to ensure the NHS has a general practice service that is equipped to manage the changing healthcare needs of patients and communities.

“General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, making the majority of patient contacts and in doing so alleviating pressure right across the health service, including in Emergency Departments. However, it is struggling and needs to be properly resourced. This is why the College is urgently calling on the Government to devise and implement a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the promise of 6,000 more GPs pledged in its 2019 election manifesto, as well as funding for general practice to return to 11% of the total NHS spend. More investment in our IT systems and premises, and steps to cut bureaucracy would mean GPs can spend more time delivering care to our patients.”

Further information

Actual appointment figures have been replaced by estimated figures to provide a more accurate representation of workload data.

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.