5 May 2015

RCGP Response to Economist Intelligence Unit Report on the NHS

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said:

"The UK NHS has long been the envy of the world and the standard setter for other countries to follow so this is very disappointing.

"However, we strongly refute the claims that 'expensive' self-employed doctors will prohibit future recruitment.

"UK GPs are incredibly good value for money - providing 90% of patient contacts in the NHS - and boosting the number of GPs is the solution to so many of the problems currently besetting the health service.

"We must also remember that mortality and health outcomes are more closely linked to wider determinants of health such as diet and lifestyle, than to the performance of healthcare systems.

"Nevertheless, today's figures reinforce what we have been saying about general practice for some time, with family doctors having to do more and more for less and less.

"Patient numbers and demand have rocketed over the last decade, due to our growing and ageing population.
"Family doctors are now seeing 370 million patients a year, 70m more than even five years ago and 150,000 extra patients per day.

"But the share of the NHS budget for general practice has fallen year on year and is now at an all-time low of just over 8% across the UK.

"We also have a severe shortage of GPs, with thousands approaching retirement age and not enough medical graduates going into general practice to replace them.

"General practice is the most cost-effective way of delivering patient care, in the community where patients want to be treated, and thereby keeping people out of hospital and easing the pressures on other parts of the health service.

"Research by Deloitte has shown that for every £1 spent on general practice, it saves the NHS nearly £5 in the long term, and properly resourced general practice could prevent 1.7m patients going to A&E unnecessarily every year.

"The incoming government, whatever it looks like, must introduce an urgent package of measures to recruit new GPs, retain existing ones, and encourage trained doctors who have left to return to the profession.

"We need 10,000 more GPs across the UK over the duration of the next Parliament so that patients in the UK can access the standards of care and services that they have come to rely on from the UK NHS and that they 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.