Responding to the findings of Pulse magazine's GP workload survey, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said:
“These survey findings reflect what any GP, practice nurse or receptionist will tell you – crucially that practices are as busy as ever and have been open throughout the pandemic, continuing to provide care for their patients.
“The findings highlight the immense workload pressures that continue to be placed on GPs. 70% of GPs reported a higher workload than before the pandemic, with the family doctors on average working 11 hours each day.
“More and more appointments may now be taking place via telephone or online, but there is a misconception that remote are somehow ‘easier’ for GPs and other practice clinicians or take less time than face-to-face consultations. This is not the case and in fact often the opposite can often be true.
“While GPs have been caring to the best of their ability while following necessary national guidance around remote consultations, they share the frustration of some patients, who would prefer a face-to-face appointment at their local surgery. Indeed, most family doctors are missing the regular in-person contact they have with patients, many of whom they will have been seeing for several years.
"GPs are though still very aware that the reason for this current way of working is first and foremost to protect patients and staff and reduce the risk of this deadly infection spreading."
“As we move beyond the crisis stage of this winter wave, GPs will continue to face intense pressures and we must ensure all in the general practice workforce are given time to rest and re-charge before we get into the autumn which is already predicted to see increases in workload pressures. Not only will there be the annual flu programme alongside any further Covid vaccination boosters if they are thought to be necessary, we will also need to address the huge backlog of care while there is the potential for further spikes in coronavirus infections.
“Above all else though, the survey shines additional light on just how much GPs and their teams are doing on a daily basis. And while they have gone the extra mile for their patients throughout the pandemic – with around two-thirds telling our own most recent survey they were working beyond their normal hours, many with no additional pay - there is only so far they can stretch themselves before they reach breaking point.
“It is therefore essential that the Government acts urgently to ensure general practice has the necessary staff, funding and resources to ensure doctors can continue to provide safe and timely care for their patients.”
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.