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General practice is open – and help us get this message out

General practice is open – and help us get this message out

Two years ago, we ran a huge snapshot survey on GP workload. Around 1,700 of you contributed to the survey, telling us how many patient contacts you’d had that day and, crucially, whether you felt you were working safely.

More than 50% of you told us you were working beyond safe levels. These were shocking figures, if not surprising. This survey helped put GP workload on the national agenda. The results formed the backbone of a day of stories about general practice on the BBC, culminating in an episode of Panorama devoted to the crisis in the profession. The survey was brought up by the Leader of the Opposition in Prime Minister’s Questions.

I am not going to insult you by telling you this brought about meaningful change. Yes, there has been a review of bureaucracy. But you know how hard general practice remains, and how all encompassing the workload pressures are.

But all we can do at Pulse is not let this be forgotten and counter those damaging claims about general practice being closed. At the very worst time – in the middle of the worst pandemic in more than a century – this narrative has thrived.

So we are rerunning this survey on Monday 1 March. We want to make it clear that general practice is most definitely open. And, I suspect (without wishing to pre-empt the results), not only is it open, but it is full.

I am fully aware of the irony of asking you to fill in another survey and thus add to your workload pressures. But I can only say that we have kept it short and sweet and, by filling this in, you are helping to keep workload in the spotlight.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 24 February, 2021 4:12 pm

Paradoxically, ‘closing’ and distancing yourself (like dentists and lawyers) is the only path, that’ll makes humans pay attention and pay their due respects. Cultural mind shift in a world where your Health secretary is unlawful, untruthful, ‘closed’ and corrupt and your colleagues are sadly dead. The worst thing would be amnesia at this time, and distractions by a vaccine programme.

Patrufini Duffy 24 February, 2021 6:01 pm

A side note – for all our information, there is a current instagrammable trend, of WFH 20 year olds, with superstitious ME/chronic fatigue syndrome who are filling in a template from the ME society, justifying their covid vaccine prioritisation. Bizarre. Good headline for Pulse though. Maybe not politically correct. But, forget the police, teachers or prison officers, we have the new kids to add to that one who has an old salbutamol inhaler, from 2004 to appease, prior to their trip to Bali.

A non 24 February, 2021 6:17 pm

I know I am likely to receive a torrent if ‘how wrong can someone be!?’ and ‘what planet are you on??!’ but from the outside looking in General Practice, like much of the wider NHS, certainly does look to be fully open – it looks to be half closed. My wife’s practice operations a ‘phone on the day’ only appointment system..even after receiving a text to ‘book an appointment to review your blood test results’ . Securing an appointment requires a degree of persistence on the phone that is quite considerable. As a locum I have seen my bookings dry up almost completely. From a professional perspective when I do get a practice looking for help I spend the morning responding to patient enquiries by phone and seeing them face to face rarely – when clinically indicated. I appreciate general practice is indeed very busy, what with vaccinations and administrative issues but it is certainly NOT providing the kind of service that patients previously experienced. Wether we like it or not there are some very genuine (and Im sure very necessary) reasons why sone people feel access to their GP is extremely limited. This needs to be acknowledged if we are to have an honest debate about why GPs feel so consistently over worked. I read PULSE often and value much of its output but I am struck by the absence of acknowledgment of how and why an ‘over worked and under staffed’ primary care system has suddenly stopped needing to hire staff that were previously needed constantly. I’m sorry I simply dont buy into the often spun response of ‘you locums are all too expensive and you’re probably a crap Dr no-one wants to hire anyway’ . When things do finally return to normal I think you might find much the ‘extra help’ you used to need so often has all disappeared, forced to find another way of earning a living. Maybe we’ve all gone salaried, but I doubt it. This locum for one is moving out of clinical practice and I suspect many of my colleagues are doing other things too. Trying to see how it looks from the outside (your patients) would bring a little more honesty to this whole issue. Condemnation awaited.

A non 24 February, 2021 6:31 pm

..and might i suggest Dr Duffy that “closing’ and distancing yourself (like dentists and lawyers)” is in effect to some extent, precisely what has happened.

James Cuthbertson 25 February, 2021 8:38 am

My GP has been amazing through this pandemic.

Concerned GP 25 February, 2021 11:02 pm

I think there are disparities across the country but it does not help that the media has a very “anti-GP”
agenda and no matter what we do, that unfortunately is unlikely to change. We have been continuing with routine work, taking on calls from 111, taking on extra work from secondary care, managing the covid vaccination programme and now have to manage patients with long covid in the community (although. I have no idea how) etc. We will continue to have things dumped on us and yet we are constantly criticised for not doing enough! The way we work has changed but that has been for safety reasons. I don’t think general practice will ever go back to how it was and we will need to find the right balance in terms of telephone and face to face consultations.

Ian Jacobs 26 February, 2021 7:21 pm


Dave Haddock 28 February, 2021 8:18 pm

At least one local Practice still has locked doors and no face to face consulting.

Patrufini Duffy 3 March, 2021 2:48 pm

A non. It is painful to the ego, but when one realises that 80% of UK GP medicine is trivial nonsense then you can see it honestly and realistically that extra locum staff is irrelevant. Period. But yes, a good thing to try is becoming a Partner/Consultant, then consult 100% of your list, pay 3 locums to help and see what happens – it will achieve little, and destroy everything en route.