GPs are caring for 120 more patients each on average than in 2019 – yet the GP workforce continues to fall

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics on GP-patient ratios.

Professor Hawthorne said: “Today’s figures show yet again how GPs are working above and beyond to deliver high-quality and complex care to an ever-growing patient population. A record 36.1 million appointments were delivered in October alone, with almost 40% delivered on the same day booked. On average, a fully qualified full-time equivalent GP is caring for 120 patients more than in 2019, yet the size of the full-time equivalent GP workforce has fallen by 660 since December 2019.

“While the intense pressures on GP services are being felt across the UK, some regions are being affected worse than others. We are particularly concerned this is happening in more deprived areas of the country, where patients are more likely to have multiple and increasingly complex health needs, so we urgently need to see extra funding for practices serving the most deprived populations to help recruit and retain staff in under-doctored areas, as well as a comprehensive review of retention and recruitment initiatives.

"GPs want to be able to consistently give their patients the care they deserve, no matter where they live in the country. But the increased workload expected of GPs and their teams, coupled with the chronic shortage of GPs, is unsustainable.  Overall, the GP workload has increased by 18% since 2019, and this is having an impact on experienced GPs, who are overstretched, exhausted and burning out. Sadly, this is causing some GPs to evaluate their career in general practice and more GPs are now leaving the profession than are joining it, due to concerns about delivering safe patient care and the impact these intense pressures are having on their own wellbeing.

“Patients and GP teams deserve better general practice. This is why the College is calling on Government to implement a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by the Conservatives in their election manifesto. We also need to see a review and revamp of retention schemes to keep experienced GPs in the workforce, as well as more initiatives to attract GPs and their teams to work in under doctored areas, where our services are often most needed.  Funding for general practice must also be returned to 11% of the total health spend, and better investment in our IT systems and premises is needed, alongside steps to cut bureaucracy so that we have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633

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.