The RCGP will ask GPs to get patients to sign a petition over the summer,calling for general practice funding to rise to 11% of the overall NHS budget.
The college said the petition marks the next phase of its ‘Put patients first: Back general practice’ campaign – run in conjunction with the National Association of Patient Participation (NAPP) – which calls for an increase in funding to 11% by 2017.
It will be accompanied by a poster showing long queues of people waiting outside a GP practice in ‘a nightmare vision’ of the future, with all GP practices in the country set to receive a copy of both in the post this week.
RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘Never before has the college felt it necessary to ask patients to sign a petition or to send each practice such a hard-hitting poster for their waiting rooms, but general practice is now under greater pressure than ever before.’
She added: ‘The overwhelming majority of GPs – some of whom conduct up to 60 patient consultations a day – are now so busy that they fear they may miss something serious in one of their patients.’
‘The risk to safe patient care has never been greater – and it is because GPs are so concerned about the standard of care they can deliver that we hope patients across the country will sign our petition calling on the four governments of the UK to give general practice the investment it desperately needs.’
The joint campaign was launched in April this year with the unveiling of a report from Deloitte that predicted UK general practice funding is set to reach a record low of 7.29% of the NHS budget by 2017/18, from 8.39% in 2012/13.
The campaign is asking for 11% of NHS funding to be put into general practice, and the Deloitte report estimated that to just ‘stand still’ general practice would need at least £11.47bn – 9.81% of the projected 2017/18 budget.
It comes as the ‘Your GP Care’ campaign, also targeting patients, was launched earlier this month. The BMA’s campaign will highlight the ‘unprecedented pressure’ GPs are under via practices displaying posters, literature and other materials.
Commenting on the RCGP’s campaign, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘This is a mess of [Prime Minister] David Cameron’s own making. He raided the GP budget to pay for an NHS reorganisation no one wanted and no one voted for. Cameron’s cuts have made it harder for people to get an appointment and left GPs working under intolerable pressure.’