General practice 'crisis' putting patients at risk, warns RCGP

Rising pressure on general practice has left 85% of GPs unable to guarantee safe care for their patients, an RCGP poll shows.

Professor Clare Gerada: poll shows general practice in crisis
Professor Clare Gerada: poll shows general practice in crisis

College leaders said the findings show the profession is in crisis, and demanded a 10% rise in funding and 10,000 more GPs over the next decade.

More than half (55%) of GPs carry out between 40 and 60 consultations a day, the survey of 258 GPs found.

A total of 46% work at least 11 hours a day in their practice, with 84% warning workload has risen sharply and 58% reporting they work at least until 7pm.

Almost half of respondents (48%) to the RCGP poll said patients now have to wait longer for a GP appointment.

A total of 93% of GPs say the profession is more stressful now than it was five years ago, and a staggering 22% reported they had to seek support, guidance or advice for work-related stress.

RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: ‘The results of this poll show that general practice is in a state of crisis.

‘General practice is at the heart of the NHS, and if it starts to buckle, the whole of the health service starts to buckle and patient care in both primary and secondary care will suffer.

‘The findings of this poll are truly shocking and they explode the myth, peddled by certain people in recent weeks, that GPs are somehow working less hard than other professionals across the health service.

‘General practice has radically altered over the last five years, with ballooning workloads, and more and more patient consultations having to be crammed into an ever expanding working day – as the patient population grows older and increasingly suffers from an increasing range of ailments.

‘The overwhelming pressure that many GPs now feel is leading to an upsurge in work-related stress and other health issues and we need to ensure that we can deliver safe care for all our patients. General practice must be given at least 10% of the ring-fenced NHS budget.’

The poll was conducted by pollsters Research Now on behalf of the RCGP. Of the 258 GPs who took part, 210 were from England, 25 from Scotland, 14 from Wales, and nine from Northern Ireland.

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