The quality and safety of patient care in general practice in England is under threat from rising workload pressures, according to a major new BMA survey of more than 5,000 GPs.

Key findings from the survey, which drew responses from 5,025 GPs across England, include:

  • Eight out of 10 GPs (84 per cent) believe that workload pressures are either unmanageable (57 per cent) or excessive (27 per cent) and are having a direct impact on the quality and safety of the care they deliver to patients
  • Only one in 10 (10 per cent) describe their workload as manageable and allowing for good and safe quality of care
  • The South East (86 per cent), the West Midlands (86 per cent) and Yorkshire and Humberside (86 per cent) had the highest rates of GPs reporting unmanageable levels of workload
  • GPs outlined a broad range of options to help tackle these problems, such as increased provision of enhanced community nurses to manage vulnerable housebound patients (64 per cent), more help to enable patients to safely self-care (59 per cent) and greater provision of mental health workers (53 per cent) in the community

 

Responding to the survey, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP Committee Chair, 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 patients need.

‘Addressing the crisis in general practice requires a clear strategy that tackles the numerous problems undermining local GP services. 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.

‘The recent GP Forward View accepted the principles behind the BMA’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice which laid out practical solutions, like those identified in our 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.’

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