28 October 2014

RCGP Comment on Patient De-Registration

The RCGP have commented on an article in Pulse on GP catchment areas.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “This is an extremely distressing situation for patients and for GPs and their practice teams. Every patient should be able to see their family doctor when they need to, and GPs want to provide the best possible access and high quality care for all their patients.

“No surgery wants to reduce their list or deregister patients. This is still extremely rare and only takes place as a very last resort when all other options have been exhausted and there is a clear threat to patient safety. Practices will always aim to stop the registration of new patients before deregistering anyone.

“Unfortunately, what we are seeing now is a sad consequence of the desperate shortage of GPs in many parts of the country, with many practices finding it difficult to replace doctors who are retiring.

“We do not have sufficient numbers of doctors to meet demand and this is having an impact on the care we can provide for patients.

“Over 90% of all NHS patient contacts take place in general practice for just over 8% of the total UK NHS budget -  the lowest it has ever been. Yet over the last decade the number of patient consultations has risen to an all time high and there are now 40 million more consultations in general practice than there were even five years ago.

“Our own research shows that over the next year, there will be nearly 60 million occasions when patients cannot get an appointment to see their GP or practice nurse and this is unacceptable.

"To ensure patients can get the level of service they deserve, we urgently need to recruit thousands more GPs. That is why we are calling on the government to support the proposals announced by NHS England last week to shift funding from hospitals back into GP services in the community, to expand the number of GPs in training and for incentives to encourage more GPs into under-doctored areas.

“Family doctors would then not be faced with the agonising decision of having to reduce their lists or deregister patients and patients would not have to move to other practices further away from their homes.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 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.