The BMA plans to help GPs explain to their patients about the extra workload pressures they are currently facing, by sending out a range of supporting materials.
The doctors’ union said the surge in demand highlighted in the monthly appointment data clearly showed the unprecedented pressures under which GPs were now working and finding increasingly hard to deal with.
And it warned there was no evidence to suggest these added pressures were likely to ease in the coming months as winter approaches.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC chair at the BMA, said the move comes as ‘general practice is under pressure like never before’.
‘Even before the pandemic, surgeries were struggling with staff shortages, outdated and small premises and a lack of resources, and now they are facing spiralling demand and managing a record backlog of care, on top of delivering an historic vaccine rollout,’ he said.
‘The BMA regularly provides guidance, support and materials to practices to help them navigate these pressures – and helping the public understand the challenges faced by their local surgery, and the impact that this may have on their experience, as well as where the responsibility lies for addressing these issues, is one area in which we are committed to assist GPs and their teams – and we will provide members with more information in due course.’
Recently, said Dr Vautrey, ‘many surgeries have felt stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to be as accessible as possible throughout the pandemic, all the while following understandably strict Government guidelines to keep their communities safe’.
But he added that ‘fundamentally, the Government must deliver on its commitments to increase the GP workforce, and with NHS England must show that it supports and values a properly-resourced general practice so that family doctors and their colleagues can meet the needs of patients at this critical time’.
It comes as a new survey from the BMA showed that more than half of GPs have faced verbal abuse from patients or those accompanying them in the last month – and one in five has been threatened.
In response, the BMA urged the Government and NHS England to manage patient expectations on GP services.
The move to distribute material throughout the primary care workforce comes after the RCGP published its own report reinforcing many of the BMA’s recent messages and warning that general practice had reached ‘breaking point’.
The RCGP report proposed a five-point recovery plan to prevent GPs and other practice team members from burn-out and ensure patients continue to receive the care they need.
The RCGP said pressures faced in general practice had become unsustainable and called for urgent action as the country moves beyond the ’emergency’ pandemic period.
It said during this time, GPs have had to deal with the aftermath of Covid-19 in their local communities and the additional mental and physical health problems it is causing in patients of all ages.