Half of GPs believe they cannot guarantee safe care to their patients


One in two family doctors believes that they “can no longer guarantee safe care to their patients” as pressures on GP practices countrywide continue to mount.

In a poll conducted the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), 85 per cent of GPs said that their profession was “in crisis”, while 93 per cent said that working in general practice had become more stressful in the past five years.

The 2004 GP contract, which saw family doctors opt out of much of the out-of-hours care they once provided, has been blamed for soaring waiting times in A&E units by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt. However, 84 per cent of GPs said that their own workload had increased “substantially”. The Royal College is now calling for 10,000 new GPs by 2022, and a 10 per cent leap in funding for general practice.

The RCGP’s chair Dr Clare Gerada called the findings of the poll, of 258 family doctors, “truly shocking”.

“The findings… explode the myth, peddled by certain people in recent weeks, that GPs are somehow working less hard than other professionals across the health service,” she said.

“General practice has radically altered over the last five years, with ballooning workloads, and more and more patient consultations having to be crammed into an ever expanding working day – as the patient population grows older and increasingly suffers from an increasing range of ailments.”

Nine of out ten contacts the public has with the NHS are through GPs, but general practice only receives nine per cent of NHS funding.

The Department of Health acknowledged that GP surgeries had become extremely busy, while Labour said that doctors’ surgeries were “paying the price of David Cameron’s broken NHS promises.”

Relations between Mr Hunt and the powerful GP lobby were severely soured by his assertion that the 2004 GP contract, which saw family doctors hand over responsibility for much out-of-hours care to agencies, urgent care units and A&Es, had been “disastrous”. Leading doctors called his attack “childish and superficial”.

However, Dr Gerada appeared to offer an olive branch last week when she suggested GPs could take back responsibility for the round-the-clock care of a small number of patients who disproportionately require A&E and out-of-hours care, including the frail and elderly and those with complex health problems and those who require mental health services.

More than half of GPs said that they already worked until at least 7pm, and saw between 40 and 60 patients every day. Forty-six per cent said they spend at least 11 hours a day in surgery.

“Patients are now struggling to get appointments and GPs are forced to juggle the needs of fifty patients per day,” said Andrew Gwynee, Labour’s shadow health minister. “Ministers must put in place a plan to stop the deterioration in primary care services. Patients are paying a high price and they deserve better.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “General practice makes an enormous contribution to people’s health and well-being. We also know that the majority of people rate their overall experience of their GP practice as good and they have confidence and trust in their GPs. However we recognise that the way primary care is delivered is changing and that a complex range of factors are causing pressures on GP services. We want to explore with the profession how we can best enable GP practices to continue to provide a quality service and we look forward to working with the RCGP to identify how best to achieve these goals."

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam