This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Financially 'unsustainable' to run a practice, say GPs

The state of general practice in Wales and Northern Ireland has been laid bare by survey results published this week.

In Wales, funding pressures mean 42% of GPs believe it is now financially unsustainable to run a practice.

Reiterating its call for general practice to receive 11% of the NHS budget, RCGP leaders said things have to change.

In a survey of 137 GPs, 31% of GPs, said at least once a week, are so stressed they feel they cannot cope and almost a quarter said they would be unlikely to be working in general practice in five years.

The vast majority of GPs said the funding available from all sources for general practice is not enough and 72% of GPs say they expected working in general practice to get worse in the next five years.

In Northern Ireland, an RCGP survey found that GPs have dire concerns about how they will manage patient demand through winter pressures.

The college reported that 89% of 127 GPs surveyed are concerned that their increased workload during the winter months will negatively affect their ability to deliver patient care.

It follows a survey of more than 1,000 English GPs which also found almost a third of GPs did not think they would be working in general practice five years from now with stress being the main factor.

Dr Mair Hopkin and Dr Peter Saul, joint chairs of RCGP Wales, said have outlined the case for more funding in a new report ‘Transforming general practice: Building a profession fit for the future’.

They have asked Welsh government who are currently in the process of negotiating a new Welsh GP contract for a ‘step change’ in funding.

‘More of the same won’t deliver the best results for an ageing population with an increase in multiple, long-term conditions.

‘Patients need to be able to access services in their community and get help before issues get worse.

‘Things need to change. GPs deserve better and patients deserve better.’

RCGP Northern Ireland are asking patients to relieve pressure on general practice by managing minor ailments at home and seeking advice from a pharmacist.

RCGPNI chair Dr Grainne Doran said: ‘GPs strive to provide the very best care to all of our patients. Over the winter period, there is no doubt that our workload hugely increases.

‘For more minor conditions such as coughs and colds, patients can get great advice and over the counter medicines from local pharmacies.

She added: ‘This will be faster and more efficient and will help ensure appointments with a doctor are available for those who need them most.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • Current spend on general practice in Northern Ireland is now running well below 11% nhs spend, depending upon how you read the data, I reckon it is about 5-6 percent at present,
    Perhaps some more informed people couldpost the exact percentage for 2018-2019
    And yet..........
    Primary care indicators are so much better that secondary care here as we endure the worst secondary care waiting lists that I have seen in my career of over 25 years as a gp
    Something just doesn’t add up!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The 'adding up' relates to paying hospital trusts, and 2ry care in general, whether or not they see patients. Trusts argue that the overheads remain and are increasing so allocate increasing proportions of their budget, leaving a smaller proportion for clinical services. They are then unable to replace staff, who can't see patients, so waiting lists increase.
    The NHS commissions 2ry care to do less and less with more and more money, whilst claiming credit as they have moved services into the community, ie forced GPs to cope with more and more, on an ever smaller propotion of the budget.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


  • Am I the only one that has concerns about pharmacists?

    Surely they have conflict of interest in selling medicines that have no evidence? eg cough bottles etc. As a practice we are not allowed to do this. It would be unethical for me to sell a placebo for the cold.

    Our practice nurse had to do training to treat minor illnesses - genuine question, do pharmacists do this training also?

    I understand the days of pharmacists making up medications are largely gone but this doesn't mean they should have a go at something else.

    I would be interested to know others opinions about this.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In England you have the right colour, have one foot in the CCG and other in LMC or a good contact in NHSE so you get all the funding and even APMS Contracts at double the GMS rates without following the procurement process. It's merrier here for some.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Then you can figure n the Daily Mail as the GP earning 700k per year !

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • AlanAlmond

    Unscepted | GP Partner/Principal06 Dec 2018 8:32pm
    Your casual racism is (as always) highly offensive. Please leave it out.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The primary care funding is inequitable, Welsh practices receive 12% less global sum than an identical English practice. NI and Scotland were given a different indicator in the formula so the funding cannot be directly compared.

    https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-10-156

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hank you can compare profit per patient. Average in NI is 60, so my accountant who only does several hundred GPs, tells me. [ Our practice is below this]. I am unsure of the figures elsewhere.
    But I am aware that GP practices run by Trusts get 25% more and I believe this to be the case in England.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say