RCGP demands investment to end GP workforce crisis ahead of Queen's speech

GP leaders have called on the government to deliver on promises to boost the primary care workforce and to invest in general practice ahead of the Queen's speech.

The NHS is expected to feature heavily in the government agenda to be set out in a Queen's speech around 11.30am on Thursday 19 December.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall has called for the government to deliver on its pre-election promise to deliver 6,000 more GPs - warning that many in the profession are working beyond maximum capacity and facing burnout.

With more GPs leaving the profession than joining it, he warned, general practice is 'fighting a losing battle'.

GPs under pressure

His comments came just a day after the GMC's annual State of Medical Education and Practice report warned that one in six GPs could quit the profession within a year amid soaring pressure.

In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, Professor Marshall wrote: 'In light of your election commitments to safeguard and support the NHS, I wish to reiterate the case for general practice, which has been rightly cited by your health and social care secretary as "the bedrock of the NHS".

'General practice is the first point of contact with our health service for over 1m patients every day, helping to alleviate pressures across the rest of the NHS, particularly hospitals and other secondary care services.

'Patients shouldn’t have to wait three weeks to see their GP and GPs want to offer more high quality consultations, but we are working at – and in many cases, more than – full capacity. This is leading to dedicated GPs burning out, and in some cases leaving the profession earlier than they planned to.'

Patient care

The RCGP chair warned that retaining GPs and supporting the profession to deliver improved patient care 'must be an initial priority for your government'.

The college chair highlighted that since former health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised in 2015 to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 full-time equivalent GPs by 2020/21, the workforce has decreased by more than 1,000.

The East London GP said: 'It is clear that our NHS is facing an urgent workforce crisis. In general practice, we are more than 6,000 fully-qualified FTE GPs short in England, based on the previous Conservative government’s targets for 2020/21.

'Investing in general practice is investing in the entire NHS, which is why it is so essential that GPs and their teams get the support they need to offer patients better access to primary care services and longer consultations with those that need them. We have long called for at least 11% of the NHS budget to be spent on frontline general practice, and we will continue to make the case for increased funding to primary care.'

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