Responding to the latest set of GP appointment data in England1, which shows an increase in the number of GP appointments, including the number of those being seen face-to-face, Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP committee chair, said:
“These statistics clearly illustrate that GPs and their teams are continuing to do more and more as they strive to look after patients who need them the most.
“Last month practices in England delivered more than 4 million more appointments than they did in September, a total of 33.9 million in October, and more than 3 million more than they did in the same month pre-pandemic in 2019. Meanwhile the number of people being seen face-to-face continues to rise, which underlines how wrong suggestions are that practices are closed and not seeing patients in person.
“That 3.5 million appointments were down to Covid vaccinations is testament to the continuing hard work of GP teams as they play a vital role in tackling the pandemic on the ground through the booster programme.
“What’s not picked up in these statistics though are the reams of other work that GPs and their colleagues do outside of consultations – whether this is following up on referrals, writing letters, assessing test results and managing practices.
“Couple this with the fact we’re continuing to lose GPs – we now have the equivalent of more than 1,700 fewer full-time family doctors than we had in 2015 – and the mounting workload is reaching breaking point. Staff are exhausted and demoralised, and there are simply not enough hours in the day to provide safe, quality care to patients.
“General practice prides itself on its relationship with communities, and the continuity of care it provides to local patients. Urgent action is needed to reach solutions that give practices, their hardworking dedicated teams, the space and time to do what they are best at, looking after patients in their time of need.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.