GPs call for more resources as practice workload soars

GP practices in England conducted an estimated 12 million more consultations in 2008/9 than the previous year, according to research.

Demand for practice services has risen by 40% since 1995/6
Demand for practice services has risen by 40% since 1995/6

NHS Information Centre data show that demand jumped by 4 per cent between 2007/8 and 2008/9 and has risen by nearly 40 per cent since 1995/6.

The average patient now visits their GP practice 5.4 times a year, compared with just 3.9 times in 1995, the data show.

There were an estimated 300.4 million consultations in England in 2008/9, compared with 217.3 million in 1995.

The Information Centre estimates that the number of consultations for a typical practice in England rose from 21,100 in 1995/6 to 34,200 in 2008/9.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said most GPs were now working at '100 per cent' as more healthcare moved from hospitals to primary care.

'There is also a growing trend that patients are taking a more active part in their healthcare,' Dr McCarron-Nash said.

'Of course, general practice cannot continue to absorb this demand. I think it is unacceptable that some practices have been penalised financially this year (in the national patient survey) despite this huge demand.

'We need more resources to employ more staff. As a negotiator I will again be pushing for more resources this year.'

Practice nurses now conduct 34 per cent of all consultations, compared with just 21 per cent in 1995/6.

Dr McCarron-Nash welcomed practice nurses' work towards the QOF as GPs take on more complex chronic cases from secondary care.

The research also highlights the rise of the telephone consultation, which accounted for 12 per cent of all consultations in 2008/9 compared with just 3 per cent in 1995/6.

The 2008/9 data was extrapolated from 502 practices in England.

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