Responding to the publication of the 2023 GP Patient Survey, Dr Richard van Mellaerts, BMA England GP committee deputy chair, said:
“These findings are - despite the huge pressures practices are under – testament to the hard work, professionalism and dedication of GPs and their teams.
“In the face of enormous challenges, the fact that nearly three-quarters of patients report having a good or very good experience is a huge achievement by practice teams, and with an overwhelming majority also saying they have confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they saw, underlines how highly patients value their local GP and practice. Unfortunately ministers and policymakers don’t value them in this way.
“A persistent failure to get a grip on the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice – which has seen the number of full-time equivalent GPs falling by 2,000 in England since 2015 and the number of patients per GP balloon by almost 20% - means practices are struggling to cope with demand, as underlined by some of the findings in this survey around patients’ struggles in making appointments.
“The backlogs from Covid, and record waits for outpatient appointments, coupled with an aging population, means that every practice must do more with less, just to maintain the care they offer. This is simply unsustainable without massive investment from government. If general practice fails, the NHS fails.
“So while many of these findings are positive we should not be lulled into thinking that all is well and good in general practice. Delivering the highest quality care under these conditions is taking its toll on GPs and GP numbers will continue to decline unless something is done to stem the tide of GPs leaving.
“GPs and practice staff give their all every day, evenings and weekends, to ensure that their patients receive the best quality care from them in a timely manner. This comes at great personal cost as demonstrated by the rates of burnout, ill health, and GPs leaving the profession in droves
“This survey is proof positive that the problems in general practice today lie squarely on the shoulders of a Government that refuses to invest properly in the health service and not on GPs or practice staff who are going above and beyond to ensure patients are getting the care they deserve.”
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.