11 May 2014

Eight in Ten GPs Fear Missing Serious Illness in Patients Due to Workload

Around eight in ten GPs (84%) say they worry about missing a serious condition in a patient due to their workloads, according to new research published today.

The findings are contained in a poll commissioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), which also shows that 91% of family doctors feel that general practice does not have sufficient resources to deliver high quality patient care.

The results of the poll, conducted by ComRes, come as concerns have increasingly been raised publicly that the level of investment in general practice is too low to ensure safe patient care.

When asked to what extent they worried about missing something serious with a patient because of their workload, three in ten GPs (29%) said they worried a great deal, while over half (55%) said they worried a fair amount.

The survey also revealed that only 7% of family doctors feel that general practice is sufficiently resourced in order to deliver high quality patient care. Meanwhile, 96% of GPs said that morale has decreased over the last five years.

In addition, the poll showed that 96% of GPs find working in general practice stressful.

According to the survey, 70% of GPs believe that the provision of general practice, as we know it today, will not still exist in ten years’ time.

The funding crisis for general practice is now so serious that while 90% of NHS patient contacts are conducted within general practice it only receives 8.39% of the NHS budget.

Research by Deloitte shows that if current trends continue, funding for general practice will decline by 17% over the next three years, leaving it with just 7.29% of the NHS budget by 2017-18.

In response to the funding crisis, the RCGP and the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) have launched a campaign called Put patients first: Back general practice which is calling on the four governments of the UK to ensure that general practice is given 11% of the NHS budget by 2017.

RCGP spokesperson Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said:

“The fact that more than 80% of GPs worry that they will miss something serious in a patient, due to their high workloads, is a damning indictment of the impact of the deepening funding crisis in general practice.

“Family doctors and practice nurses want to provide their patients with excellent patient care - and this takes the right levels of funding. However, only 7% of GPs currently think sufficient investment is going into general practice.

“Our poll shows that family doctors are severely demoralised and this can only be bad news for patients.

“The fact that GPs and practice nurses conduct 90% of the NHS patient contacts for just over 8% of the NHS budget is shocking – and this poll shows how damaging this funding crisis is for our patients.

“It is truly staggering that 70% of family doctors do not think that general practice, as we know it, will even exist in ten years' time – and shows that, among those who work in it, there is now a real crisis of confidence in the future of general practice.”

ComRes questioned 251 GPs online across the UK, for the survey, between 21-24 March. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Further Information

RCGP Press office - 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 44,000 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.