30 July 2018

Access to Additional GP Services Must Be Tailored to Local Patient Need Not to Meet Targets

In response to the BBC report on GP access, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "General practice is facing intense resource and workforce pressures at the moment – our workload has increased exponentially in terms of volume and complexity, but the share of the NHS budget we receive is less than it was a decade ago, and GP numbers are actually decreasing.

"We want to give patients access to services they need, and actually the great majority of GP practices are providing extended access to their services in some form already. But we know patient demand for these services varies, and it is essential that GP practices retain the flexibility to deliver their services in the most effective way, tailored to meet local patient need - not to meet arbitrary targets whereby their considerable efforts to provide additional services come to no avail.

"With the significant workforce constraints we are currently working under, extra services might only be offered by compromising existing services – either reducing the quantity or quality of core hours offerings, or both.

"It's also essential that any additional access to services are matched with sufficient resources – and CCGs must ensure the funding to deliver extended access, where appropriate for patients, gets to GPs at the frontline of delivering these services.

"Patients should already be able to access GP care when they need to through routine GP services and the GP out of hours service. What we need is better public awareness of the different services available for patients, so that they know where to turn when they become ill.

"The Prime Minister has announced additional money to fund a long-term plan for the NHS, and the vital role that general practice plays in keeping the health service safe and sustainable must be recognised in this. It is also essential that NHS England’s GP Forward View, promising £2.4bn extra a year for general practice, and 5,000 more GPs by 2020 is delivered in full and as a matter of urgency."

Further Information
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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.