10 December 2013

RCGP Response to Latest HSCIC Figures on Unecessary A&E Attendances

In response to HSCIC figures on unnecessary A&E attendances released earlier this week, RCGP Chair, Maureen Baker, said: "We recognise the struggle that patients are facing in trying to get an appointment with their family doctor, but  to blame GPs for avoidable A&E visits is inaccurate, misguided and unfair.

"GPs are working harder and longer than ever before as we try to do more for our patients but with declining budgets.

"The general practice share of the NHS budget has plummeted to an all-time low of just over 8% - despite 90% of patient contacts in the NHS being carried out by GPs, and against the backdrop of a population increase brought about by a baby boom and a rise in the old and very old.

"The College's recent research shows that GPs are routinely working 11-hour days, sometimes making up to 60 patient contacts in a single day. There is no slack in the system and the majority of GPs predict that  waiting times will rise even further  in the next two years unless urgent action is taken to reverse this decline.

"General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and investment in general practice strengthens the entire health service. With increased funding and more GPs, we could offer shorter waiting times for appointments, as well as more flexible opening hours and better continuity of care for our patients - all of which will alleviate the pressure on our hospitals, particularly A&E departments.

"The RCGP and the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.) have launched a major campaign, Put patients first, Back general practice, calling for 11% of the overall NHS budget by 2017, a modest increase of just one percentage point of the NHS budget per year.

"GPs want to provide more high quality care and services to patients in the community where most people want to be looked after, where healthcare can be delivered most cost-effectively, and where the Government says it wants more care to be provided."

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 49,000 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.