BMA guidance

Controlling workload in general practice strategy

Workload is, arguably, the most important factor in managing working conditions for GPs nationally. We've proposed a workload control strategy to address the factors involved.

Location: England
Audience: GPs Practice managers
Updated: Thursday 10 March 2022
Topics: GP practices
GP practice article illustration

It is unsustainable, unsafe and unfair for GPs to be working excessive hours at the expense of their own physical, mental and social health. Given the changes to workforce may take years to be realised, workload must be addressed urgently.

Workload has increased because of growing patient need (complex multi-morbidity) as well as a result of the widespread recruitment crisis and a lack of long-term investment in general practice.


The strategy objectives

The BMA is proposing a workload control strategy to enable general practice to improve quality and safety. The strategy aims to publicise reasonable safe workload limits, and provide practices with practical tools to control workload.

The objectives include:

  • Agree a range of clear quantitative limits to help individuals identify what safe practice looks like for them.
  • Produce guidance on safe practice across scenarios, showing common practice working patterns such as telephone consultations and triage.
  • Promote system change which allows the provision of safe general practice.
  • Propose contractual innovations for practices where rurality or other factors hamper system change.
  • Introduce an "OPEL Alert" system for use by practices and LMCs.


How to use this guide

The information in this guide will arm practice managers and GP partners with a range of tools to reduce the practice's workload.

Benefits of implementing this strategy include:

  • improved GP morale and wellbeing
  • locality working with CCGs and practices providing support
  • integrated primary care systems giving general practice a stronger voice.
  • Why workload has increased
  • Planned changes in the NHS
  • The case for GP workload control
  • The action plan
  • The workload control strategy aims, objectives and benefits
  • Anticipated risks
  • Next steps