Stop blaming GPs for A&E crisis, says RCGP

The Royal College of GPs features in Sky News coverage of the A&E situation this weekend. Read more about the pressures on general practice and why major investment is needed so that GPs can provide more service to patients in their communities.
RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said:
“There are numerous reasons why our colleagues working in A&E departments are under pressure – and it is unacceptable to lay the blame at the door of hardworking GPs who are also under huge pressure as we try to manage ever-increasing workloads with diminishing resources.
“While much of the public attention has been focussed on accident and emergency departments, there is an unseen crisis unfolding in general practice, the consequences of which could be even more severe. There are 1 million consultations in general practice every day and GPs currently make 90% of patient contacts in England – for only 9% of the budget.
“GPs are routinely working 11-hour days, sometimes making up to 60 patient contacts in the space of a single day, and this is not sustainable for the safety of our patients or the wellbeing of GPs.
“General practice is the most effective and cost-effective way of providing patient care but the profession is now at breaking point and we do not have the capacity to take on any more work, without the extra funding and resources to back it up. General practice is also the foundation stone of the NHS and when it starts to crumble, the entire NHS will follow with disastrous consequences for our patients.  
“While we don’t begrudge our A&E colleagues the money being poured into the service, this is a short term sticking plaster. The real solution is long term investment in general practice – including more GPs – so that we can do more for patients in our communities and prevent people going to hospital apart from when it is absolutely necessary.
“Patients don’t want to have to call on urgent and emergency care services. They do so when they are at their most vulnerable and in need of help and so it is vital that all professionals in the NHS work together to deliver a more joined up approach, rather than always singling out GPs for criticism.
“We are one NHS and it’s not helpful to be pitting different parts of the health service against each other when we should all be working together to improve the care we can deliver to patients.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
[email protected]

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 44,000 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.