The ‘crisis’ inside the UK GP service has been condemned in a damning new report, saying getting an appointment shouldn’t be the same as ‘calling a call center or booking an Uber driver’. , someone you’ll never see again.”
The Health and Social Care Commission accused the government and NHS England of “reluctance” to acknowledge problems in the system and warned the “crisis” in general was “putting patients at risk”.
It said the issues remained unresolved with “sufficient urgency”.
And the group of MPs added in the report that the government’s pledge for all patients to see a GP within two weeks would “not solve the underlying capacity issue that causes access to doctors”. poor polyclinic”.
The conclusions, partly written while the new Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt Chairman of the committee, cited a number of significant problems facing the industry, including “unacceptably poor” patient access and GPs being “dismayed”.
The Commission has previously spoken out about the “uberisation” of the GP service. One member Rachael Maskell said: “Seeing your GP shouldn’t be as random as booking an Uber with a driver you’re unlikely to see again.”
MPs raised concerns about “continuity of care” and said the majority of GPs no longer had individual “lists” of patients, and as a result the ability to see the same doctor polyclinic has “worsened”.
They also highlighted “unsustainable” workloads for GPs.
The report said: “It is common practice that the heart beats for the NHS and when it fails, the NHS fails.”
“We know up to 90% of health care services are performed by primary health care. However, for now, GPs are leaving almost as quickly as possible to be recruited and Patients are increasingly dissatisfied with the level of access they receive.
‘Unacceptably poor access’
“The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge it, and we believe that practice as a whole is in crisis … despite the best efforts of GPs, elastic bands have broken after years of pressure.
“Patients are faced with unacceptably poor accessibility and patient safety and general practice experiences are at risk of unsustainable pressure.”
“Given their reluctance to acknowledge the crisis in general, we do not believe that the UK Government or NHS is prepared to address issues in the service urgently.”
The group says GPs are handling more appointments than ever with fewer staff members.
The committee made several recommendations, including scrapping the existing goal-based and reward-based system as it became a “micromanagement tool and risked turning patients into numbers.” .
It also proposes limiting the size of “lists” of doctors, finding ways to help part-time GPs work longer hours, do more to help hire new doctors and deal with retirement tax issues. mind.
Committee member Ms Maskell added: “Our investigation heard over and over again the benefits of continuity of care for patients, with evidence linking it to reduced mortality and emergency hospital admission.
“However, the vital relationship between GPs and their patients is in decline.
“We find it unacceptable that this, one of the defining criteria of common practice, has been allowed to erode, and our report today sets out a range of measures to reverse the decline. that decline.”
Professor Martin Marshall, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said practitioners in general wanted to provide “safe, timely and high-quality personalized care”, but the volume Escalating work means that the number of equally qualified full-time general practitioners has decreased since then. 2015.
“We need to see urgent actions taken, not only to increase recruitment of NHS GPs, but also to keep hard-working, experienced specialists in the profession longer, providing patient care on the front lines and not getting bogged down in unnecessary bureaucracy.”
Shadow Wes Streeting’s health secretary said: “Patients feel they can’t get their GP appointments the way they want.”
What is being done?
An NHS England spokesperson said the primary care workforce has been expanded by 19,000 people since 2019 with more new roles such as assistants and digital assistants introduced from this month.
“Thanks to this additional investment, GPs and their team have delivered 10% more appointments to patients this year than they did before the pandemic, and we continue to work on plans to improve more accessibility, experience, and patient care.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said all patients should be assigned a named general practitioner, and practitioners should “try to comply with all reasonable requests of the patient.” individual to see a specific GP for an appointment”.
A statement added: “There are now almost 1,500 more full-time equivalent doctors working in polyclinics compared to 2019 and we are spending at least £1.5 billion creating an additional 50 million visits. appointments in 2024 – along with making changes to reduce the GP’s workload and schedule appointments.”