General practitioner England

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Workload strain compromises patient safety, finds survey

Chaand-Nagpaul-3 GPC chair 2015 16x9
NAGPAUL: Much needs to be done to address the monumental challenges facing GPs

Unmanageable workload means GPs are struggling to provide safe care to patients, according to the results of a BMA survey.

Findings from the recent survey of GPs in England highlight the alarming impact spiralling levels of demand are having on GPs, many of whom are increasingly unable to cope.

Based on more than 5,000 responses, the survey found that 84 per cent of GPs report that unchecked and growing workload pressures are undermining their ability to provide safe and quality care.

Of this figure, 57 per cent described their daily workloads as ‘unmanageable’ with a further 27 per cent saying that excessive pressures are directly impacting standards.


Struggling GPs

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said the results emphasised how, despite the Government's pledges of investment and support for general practice, much still needs to be done to address the monumental challenges facing the sector.

He said: ‘This major survey of more than 5,000 GPs in England demonstrates that GP practices across the country are struggling to provide safe, high-quality patient care because of unmanageable workload.

‘Many practices are being overwhelmed by rising patient demand, contracting budgets and staff shortages which has left them unable to deliver enough appointments and the specialist care many members of the public need.

He added: ‘Addressing the crisis in general practice requires a clear strategy that addresses the numerous problems undermining local GP services.

‘The recent GP Forward View accepted the principles behind the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice which laid out practical solutions, like those in our current survey, that the government needs to implement urgently.

'We cannot continue to have a service that cannot deliver a safe and effective level of care to the public.’


One in 10 gets by

In three areas – the south-east, the west Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside – 86 per cent of GPs reported unmanageable workload.

Only one in 10 of those responding to the survey said that they had a manageable workload allowing them to provide safe and effective care.

Published at the start of this year, the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice outlined a series of measures designed to address the surging demand being placed on surgeries.

These included reducing administrative burdens and increasing the numbers of support staff such as pharmacists, nurses and mental health professionals.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘We need an urgent expansion of the workforce in both practices and community-based teams, with GPs calling for an increased number of nurses to look after housebound patients and mental health workers to cope with growing demand in this area.

‘Better information for patients about how to safely self-care and wider funding increases for general practice are also needed.’

Read the survey's findings on workload

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