Exclusive Two thirds of GPs have experienced a ‘significant’ increase in ‘workload dump’ by hospitals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a Pulse survey of over 800 GPs, carried out last month, 67% said they had seen a significant increase, while a further 28% said they had seen workload dump increase ‘a little bit’.
Dr Rachel Pettinger, a GP in Cumbria and Sheffield, said the workload dump was ‘significant’, ‘without any acknowledgement’ and ‘certainly no reimbursement’.
She told Pulse: ‘As GPs, we’re very willing to do as much as possible to care for our patients – we’ve always done that – but the lack of recognition, with media bashing of primary care and abuse experienced by GPs, is difficult to cope with in the context of the increasing additional, unacknowledged work we’re doing.’
She added: ‘Primary care has always done far more to support their hospital colleagues than secondary care has ever realised – this continues and increases as the hospitals get busier.
‘We’re ready to do all we can to support our patients and secondary care colleagues, but would like this to be recognised.’
A GP based in North West England, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘As always, secondary care has changed outpatients and even [their] prescription requests for antibiotics are coming to primary care. Reasons cited include that it’s easier for patients, but it increases workload and responsibilities.’
This month, NHS England issued new measures on the issue of GP workload as Covid cases spiralled. These include the suspension of local enhanced services and QOF income protection.
When also asked in the December survey: ‘What work will your practice reduce to carry out the Covid vaccination programme?’, almost half of respondents said that they would continue all work.
Other GPs were most likely to reduce minor surgery and face-to-face appointments, at 32% and 25% respectively.
The majority of GPs (65%) also said they were struggling to get patients seen in secondary care, compared to pre-Covid.
In response to the survey results, an NHS spokesperson said: ‘The NHS is delivering the largest vaccination programme in its history, treating record number of coronavirus patients in hospitals, while also continuing routine care.
‘The entire NHS workforce, including GPs, are putting in the shift of their lives to help meet the historic challenge the NHS faces, and the NHS is grateful to all its staff for their ongoing hard work.’
It comes as a recent analysis carried out by Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire LMC showed that workload dump from secondary would take an additional 1,150 full-time GPs across England to complete.