More than half of GP practices report deteriorating services due to workload

More than half of practices in England report deteriorating services because of workload pressures, according to a BMA survey.

Dr Beth McCarron: GPs under pressure
Dr Beth McCarron: GPs under pressure

Almost a third of practices in England responded to the poll, which found:

  • 55% reported that the quality of service in their practice had deteriorated in the past 12 months.
  • 2% of practices said their workload was low or generally manageable.
  • 55% said their workload was unmanageable a lot of the time.
  • 13% said it was unmanageable all of the time.
  • 92% said there had been a rise in demand for appointments in the past 12 months.

The West Midlands had the highest level of unmanageable workload, with 16% of practices falling into this category. The south of England reported the biggest deterioration in patient care, with 66% saying it had deteriorated.

GPC executive member Dr Beth McCarron said: ‘These figures clearly show that general practice is in a state of emergency with the majority of GP practices across England registering a deterioration in the quality of care being delivered to patients.

GP crisis

‘This is clearly the result of rising workload, including increasing patient demand for appointments which is placing unsustainable pressure on GP services that have been starved of resources and staff. There were more than 600 GP trainee positions left unfilled in 2015 at a time when a third of the workforce are considering retirement in the next five years.

This comes at a time when GP practices are seeing 150,000 more patients each day than in 2010, but have seen no extra resources to maintain effective, safe care to the public. With an ageing population, this pressure is only likely to increase in the years to come.

‘Politicians have to realise that general practice is currently running on empty. GPs desperately want to provide the best possible service for patients: this is why GPs became doctors. But we have to be given the tools and support to provide patients with the service they deserve. The government has to realise that we cannot go on with a crisis situation where sliding quality of care becomes an accepted part of general practice.’

Primary care minister Alistair Burt said: 'General practice is at the heart of the improvement we want to see in the NHS. We recognise absolutely that it is under pressure, which is why we are delivering record investment, with funding for the sector increasing by around 5% every year for the rest of the parliament, as we commit to 5,000 more doctors in general practice. The Health Secretary will shortly announce further support for GPs, which should assist in meeting the pressures doctors are reporting.'

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