In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada warned that if general practice starts to buckle, ‘the whole of the health service starts to disintegrate’.
‘We are concerned that with all the attention currently focused on emergency departments, we are losing sight of the very real crisis in general practice. We also need to find new ways of providing more personalised care to patients out of hours, whilst ensuring that we do not put patient safety at risk by expecting exhausted GPs to work unacceptable hours.’
She added: ‘Unless general practice receives urgent investment – including more doctors – the impact on patients will be catastrophic.’
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.
The Patients Association has seen a 30% increase in the number of calls about primary care to its helpline. Almost two thirds of patients surveyed said that they were waiting longer than 48 hours for a GP appointment.