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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

RCGP calls for emergency cash injection to prevent crisis in general practice

The RCGP has called for an ‘emergency package’ of additional investment for general practice to protect patients from deep cuts to their care and longer waiting times.

The College made the call after their survey of the profession found patients will have to wait longer for GP appointments as a ‘double whammy’ of dwindling resources and spiraling workload force GPs to cut back on services.

The College said their latest survey highlights a growing crisis in general practice, more than 80% of respondents said that they now have insufficient resources to provide high quality patient care.

More than 70% of GPs are forecasting longer waiting times for GP appointments within the next two years - as nearly half - 47% - reveal that they have already cut back on the range of services they provide for their patients.

The survey of 206 GPs carried out earlier this month showed 39% of respondents also said they had cut practice staff and over half had experienced difficulty recruiting and retaining GPs.

The survey closely mirrors the results of a Pulse survey in June that found around one in seven practices has had to make staff redundancies since April to offset the funding squeeze caused by the Government’s imposed contract.

The RCGP found four out of five GPs were concerned that it will become increasingly difficult to deliver continuity of care to vulnerable elderly people - which has been highlighted as a priority by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

And some 72% of GPs in England said that the amount of time they were able to spend on frontline patient care has been reduced as a result of the new clinical commissioning responsibilities they have been given.

A previous RCGP survey revealed that 85% of GPs now consider the profession to be in crisis and the college is concerned that the current situation in A&E departments is overshadowing the very serious problems GPs face.

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair said: ‘The results of our survey paint a bleak picture for patients, the profession and the future of general practice.

‘GPs currently make 90% of patient contacts for only 9% of the NHS budget in England. Some GPs are making up to 60 patient contacts in a single day, which is not safe for patients or GPs.

‘We are working our hardest to make sure that patients are not affected but the status quo is no longer an option. We must have an emergency package of additional investment for general practice to protect GP services and protect our patients from even deeper cuts to their care and longer waiting times.”

Dr Gerada added: “General practice is the most cost-effective and efficient arm of the health service - GPs keep the rest of the NHS stable and secure. Once general practice starts to crumble, the entire NHS will follow with disastrous consequences for our patients.

‘Last week the Government announced an additional £500 million for A&E departments. What we need is our fair share of funding so that GPs can do more for our patients in their communities.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • A cash injection would be a temporary solution at best. What is really needed is some sort of demand control such as appointment charges, a set number of free appointments per year or cutting back QOF box ticking. An end to the bureaucratic time sink that is revalidation would also help enormously as would ditching CQC. Of course the government aren't interested in any of this which is why they brought in the most enormously damaging NHS reform the UK has ever seen. Full privatization is only a short step away.

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  • yes fully agree
    cash injection is temporary at best
    we are the only country in western hemisphere where all services are completely free- this means patient demand is impossible to manage as patients have many rights and no responsibilities
    a small token charge say £5 will get rid of a lot of inappropriate users
    before anybody mentions -the needy will stop using the service arguement-seems to work very well in France Germany etc why cant we do it here?

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  • 60 contacts per day is routine, almost everyday. Completely unsafe, of course, and stressful leading to frayed tempers, depression and burnout. But what is safe ? Who will define this? Why does the RCGP not take the lead and give guidelines on safe consulting - numbers and hours. Does not sit very well, does it, with proposed 24 hour care responsibility for 5% of the very ill ?

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