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To: Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Urgent need to control GP workload
Dear Secretary of State,
We write, as GPs, to bring to your attention the state of emergency which is unfolding in U.K. General Practice.
As you will know, the government’s promise to provide 5,000 extra GPs (first made in 2015) has not been fulfilled. In recent years there has been a steady fall in the number of fully qualified full time equivalent GPs, as many doctors cannot sustain working under the present conditions. The demand for our services continues to rise; more GP appointments were provided this March than ever previously. Our workforce has been battling against an unmanageable workload for many years - to the point that any increase in demand can no longer be safely met. Patients report struggling to access GP appointments, and we find it increasingly difficult to determine who is most in need of medical care.
The current situation is becoming unsafe for patients and staff. Many GPs are on the edge of burnout after working for years under extreme pressure. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, our workforce warned about the dangers of allowing General Practice to be consistently overwhelmed, and the impending workforce crisis. We are at a loss as to what we, as individual doctors, are now supposed to say to our frustrated patients when they are unable to get the medical care they need.
Unless urgent action is taken to reduce our workload, this winter could prove disastrous for General Practice, and the impact will be felt across the NHS.
Why is this important?
General Practice is facing unprecedented demand after years of failing to address a mismatch between workforce and workload. If urgent action is not taken, GPs are in danger of burnout, and patients may be unable to access medical care.