GPs ‘are fighting a losing battle’, says RCGP

According to the chair of the RCGP, GPs are fighting a losing battle when it comes to delivering full patient satisfaction

Results of this year’s British Social Attitudes survey, released last week, show that satisfaction with GP services is the lowest it has been since the survey – began 36 years ago. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded with disappointment.

She said: “GPs and our teams want to provide the best care that we possibly can for our patients, so it’s always disappointing to hear that some people are not always satisfied with the services they are receiving.

“We know that general practice is currently facing intense resource and workforce pressures, and while GPs are working incredibly hard to combat these, we understand that many patients are still waiting too long to see their doctor – something we find just as frustrating.

“Nevertheless, we know from the last GP Patient Survey that the majority of patients (84%) said that they had a good experience of their general practice.

“This demonstrates the hard work and dedication of GPs and our teams, who are seeing more than a million patients a day across the country. But working under these conditions simply isn’t sustainable for us, or ultimately, our patients.

“Our workload has escalated, both in terms of volume and complexity, in recent years but the share of the NHS budget general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago and the number of full-time equivalent GPs in England has actually fallen over the last two years.

“The NHS long-term plan has aspirations that will be good for patients – but we will need the workforce to deliver it.

“There is some great work ongoing to increase recruitment into general practice, and we now have more GPs in training than ever before – but when more family doctors are leaving the profession than entering it we are fighting a losing battle.

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“The forthcoming NHS workforce strategy for England must contain measures to help retain GPs in the workforce for longer – steps to reduce workload to make working in general practice more sustainable and removing incentives to retire early for GPs who might not necessarily want to, would both be sensible places to start.”

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