19 January 2016

RCGP Response to Commonwealth Fund GP Survey

Professor Nigel Mathers, Honorary Secretary for the Royal College of GPs, said: “Such high levels of stress amongst GPs in the UK compared to other countries is bad news for the NHS and for our patients, as growing numbers of family doctors are becoming dissatisfied with their working circumstances and consider leaving the profession.

“But the findings today are not surprising. GPs and our teams across the country are working harder than ever, doing more consultations than ever, to meet the increasing demand of our growing and ageing population. This year we will do in excess of 370m patient consultations – 60m more than we did five years ago.

“We are responsible for 90% of all NHS patient contacts, and our work is becoming greater in both volume and complexity, yet resources into general practice have been decreasing over the last ten years to the point where our service now receives just over 8% of the overall NHS budget.

“This relentless demand, without increasing resources or workforce to deal with it, is a threat to our own health and our patients' safety as tired – and stressed – doctors are more likely to make mistakes. The College has been calling for workable solutions to reduce GP fatigue in the best interests of patient care for some time.

“The fact that GP appointments in the UK are the shortest of those countries included in this survey is also concerning. We want to spend longer with our patients, particularly those with multiple and chronic conditions, for which the standard ten minute consultation is increasingly inadequate – we simply don’t have the capacity to do this as a matter of course. 

“Investing in general practice makes sense. Our service is the most cost-effective form of care, it alleviates pressures across the health service, and it is delivered in the community, close to home, where our patients want it most – but it needs significant investment to allow this to continue.

“The College is calling for general practice to receive 11% of the overall NHS budget and for initiatives to be implemented to make general practice a career that medical students want to enter, and GPs want to stay in, delivering excellent patient care, for years to come. Only then will general practice be able to provide the care and services - including longer consultations for those who need them – that our patients need and deserve.”

Further Information

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


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.