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Funding crisis to lead to 34 million fewer appointments per year

Funding cuts to primary care will lead to 34 million fewer GP appointments for patients this year, the RCGP has warned.  

The RCGP’s analysis of the latest GP Patient Survey, published in December, revealed that 10% of patients who sought a consultation with a GP or a practice nurse in 2012/13 failed to get one.

The college said that the number of patients failing to see a GP at all will continue to increase due to the ongoing cuts in funding for general practice, allied to rapidly growing demand, with general practice set to see 340 million patients per year.

The slump in funding, along with a growing and ageing population, where increasing numbers of patients have multiple conditions, has had a massive impact on the ability of general practice to cope with the huge upswing in demand.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘GPs and practice nurses can’t keep doing more for less and now that funding for general practice in England has slumped to just 8.5% of the NHS budget the service we provide is in crisis.

‘All three political parties say they want to see more patients being treated in the community, where care can be provided to patients more economically, in their own surroundings, and yet resources are increasingly being diverted away from communities and into hospitals.’

She said that if the Government and NHS England really wanted to give general practice ‘the tools to provide high-quality and comprehensive care in the community’, they must increase funding for the sector to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017.