27 June 2014

RCGP Response to BJGP Research on A&E Attendances

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to research by Imperial College London published in this month's British Journal of General Practice.

She said: “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.

“But this research is further evidence of the crisis in general practice, with family doctors heaving under the strain of rocketing patient demand, due to a growing and ageing population, and plummeting investment.

“More than 90% of patient contacts in the NHS are dealt with in general practice – for only 8.39% of the budget

“There are now 40 million more consultations a year in general practice than there were even five years ago and GPs are routinely working 11 hour days and seeing up to 60 patients in a  day to try and meet the demand.

“GPs are doing a remarkable job of treating patients in the community where care is most cost-effective and where patients want and need it most, this is particularly apparent in this research as the statistics include attendances at  walk-in centres, many of which are staffed by GPs. Furthermore, research from the College of Emergency Medicine has shown that only 15% of attendees at A&E would be better off being seen by a GP in the community.

 “But without the vital funding that general practice so desperately needs, the future for patients is looking increasingly bleak.

 “According to our own research, 27m patients will have to wait more than a week to see a GP this year alone and 84% of GPs say they are worried about missing a serious condition in a patient due to the intense pressure of their workloads.

“General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS, keeping it sustainable and safe for patients. If it can’t cope, there are knock-on effects across the NHS and the ramifications for patients will be disastrous.

“The College and the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) have launched Put patients first: Back general practice, calling for general practice to receive 11% of the NHS budget by 2017. This would allow us to recruit more GPs and offer more appointments and longer appointments so that patients are not forced to turn to other parts of the health service or, more worryingly, not seek medical help at all.”

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.