Latest GP statistics show intensity of working in general practice ‘unsustainable and unsafe’ for patients and staff

Responding to the latest general practice workforce and workload data: Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Despite repeated promises to boost GP numbers, today’s figures show that we have more than 1,500 fewer qualified, full-time equivalent GPs than we did five years ago. The result is a chronically over-stretched and under-resourced general practice service, with GPs and their teams working to their absolute limits to deliver increasingly complex care to the ever-rising number of patients that need it.

“This is reflected in today’s GP consultation figures, which show general practice is continuing to deliver more consultations every month than pre-pandemic, with more than 26m appointments delivered in June, and over 44% of those on the same day they were booked.

“Working at this intensity is unsustainable and it’s unsafe for both patients and staff. An exhausted GP is not able to practice safely or deliver the high-quality care and services they are trained and want to deliver for patients. This is leading to GPs and other members of our teams burning out and having to evaluate their futures working in general practice, in some cases leaving the profession earlier than planned and in others reducing contracted working hours to make the job more sustainable. Yet working 'part time' in general practice often means working what would normally be considered full-time, or longer - and will likely include many hours of paperwork on top of patient appointments.

“The sad reality is that this situation is likely to get worse. *A recent College survey of GPs and trainees suggested nearly 19,000 GPs could leave the profession over the next five years, with many citing stress and working hours as reasons for leaving. 

“We simply can’t afford to lose any more highly-trained and experienced GPs from our workforce. That’s why the College has launched our Fit for the Future campaign calling on government to address the spiralling workload and workforce pressures in general practice. We are calling for urgent action to develop and implement a new recruitment and retention strategy that allows us to achieve and go beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs. We also need to see funding for general practice return to 11% of the total health spend and a reduction in unnecessary bureaucracy to free up GP’s time to deliver patient care.”

Further information

*Survey results extracted from RCGP annual tracking survey, comprised of 1,262 GPs and RCGP members working in England. Fieldwork conducted between March 3rd and April 4th, 2022, and results are weighted by age, region and career stage.

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.