GPs predict longer waiting times - survey

Stethoscope The Royal College of GPs surveyed just over 200 GPs

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Patients will find it more difficult to see a GP in the future as budgets get squeezed, doctors are predicting.

A Royal College of General Practitioners poll of 206 UK GPs found that more than 70% were forecasting longer waiting times within two years.

Eight in 10 also said they did not have enough resources to provide high-quality care, the survey showed.

A Patients Association report this year suggested that people were already having to wait longer.

Six in 10 of those polled by the royal college said patients in England were waiting longer than the recommended 48 hours.

Primary care, which includes GP services, has been one of the worst hit by the funding squeeze in the health service.

Spending has effectively been frozen for the past six years in England, and while there have been rises in funding elsewhere in the UK, they have been smaller compared with those given to other parts of the health service such as hospitals.

'Breaking point'

The RCGP said this situation was beginning to have an impact.

Chairman Dr Clare Gerada said: "GPs are grappling with a double whammy of spiralling workloads and dwindling resources, and big cracks are starting to appear in the care and services that we can deliver for our patients.

"We are particularly concerned about the effect this is having, and will continue to have, on waiting times for GP appointments.

"The profession is now at breaking point and we do not have the capacity to take on any more work without extra funding and resources to back it up."

The poll showed that 78% of GPs had already seen a reduction in opening hours over the past two years, while nearly half had cut back on the range of services they offered.

Ben Dyson, of NHS England, said: "We fully recognise that demands and patterns of healthcare are changing, and that this is increasing pressure on parts of the NHS.

"That's why we have recently published a call to action about the future of general practice to help stimulate new, innovative approaches to providing services and ensuring every patient gets the care they need."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    322 I am well aware lots of workers have long hours, but would you trust them with your health at the end of a 12 hour working day. As a half time GP I work a 30 hour week. The times in the day when I am not seeing patients is doing home visits and paper work. On top of that I take work home and spend several hours a week keeping up to date. My full time colleagues are exhausted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    The basis of NHS service planning appears to be that we, the punters, will only fall ill from 9 to 5.30, Mondays to Fridays. Any fule no that what we need is a 24/365 service all the way from GP to hospital. Failure in this is why A&E departments are crammed. Some GPs are experimenting (!) with extended hours - but only for 'non urgent' appointments. Welcome to 21st century healthcare in the UK!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    - More patients than ever (higher life expectancy, natural population growth, net migration etc).
    - Static funding (actually, diminishing in practice, due to equipment/drugs costing more, incremental staff contracts etc).
    - GPs working less hours than ever due to a bungled contract negotiation.

    I don't know what the answer is, I do know it's not privatisation though!

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    I am torn between two attitudes here:

    Firstly being, we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, which is on top of that free. If people want better service, I suggest they opt in for private practice.

    Secondly, that GPs are being massively overpaid for the amount of work and time that they put into their service in comparison to the vast majority of doctors who work for the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    As a GP I am staggered at the ignorance here. Our average working day is 13 hours, including the partners who then often have meetings until 11pm and work at the weekends. I can't remember the last time I ate lunch at work. There is no room for more work in the system.

    The problem is pateints only see that we work from 8-6pm. They do not see the stacks of paperwork that come as part o


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