General practitioner England

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GPs complain of work saturation

GP leaders have warned that UK GPs are ‘work-saturated’ and have no capacity to do more.

BMA GPs committee chair Laurence Buckman said yesterday that grassroots family doctors had been telling GP leaders that their workload had become so onerous patient care could be affected.

He said: ‘GPs all around the country are telling us that they are work-saturated.

‘We have tried to remind the governments and the NHS Employers that things are getting very difficult, [that] there isn’t any capacity. Taking on more work is not good for patients.’

Dr Buckman said GPs faced a packed schedule seeing their regular patients while extra tasks continued to be shifted out of hospitals without sufficient funding.

Question of capacity

He added that the issue was increasingly about capacity and having the premises space and practice staff to manage the workload.

He said clinical commissioning groups might be able to draw more funding towards community services, but this was difficult because it could mean defunding and destabilising hospitals.

GP negotiator Peter Holden said: ‘We are back to where we were in 2000 with 12-hour working days.’

Dr Holden added that GP practices were increasingly ‘picking up the pieces’ as more and more services were moved out of hospitals and into primary care.

Irrefutable evidence

GP negotiator Chaand Nagpaul added: ‘It is irrefutable that there is more care happening in GP practices year on year … We know that patients are being discharged from hospitals earlier. We know that they are having their stitches removed [in GP surgeries]. It’s a fact.’

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘We don’t have a system that allows money to follow this increase in activity.’

A BMA survey undertaken to inform the association’s evidence to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body found GP workload was increasing. GP respondents believed the top three reasons for this were staff shortages, commissioning responsibilities, and because it was the only way to deliver a quality service.

The BMA’s evidence says: ‘These findings have some important implications [for] the capacity of GPs to continue to deliver the same level of patient service without additional resources to allow them to contribute fully to wider NHS responsibilities.’