UK & World News
GPs Warn Patients Could Face Long Waits
The majority of GPs fear patients could face longer waiting times because they are struggling to cope with "spiralling workloads and dwindling resources".
A survey of 206 family doctors by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) found that four in five had "insufficient resources" to provide high quality patient care, while 47% admitted they had cut back on the range of services they provide.
More than four in five GPs are worried that it will become increasingly difficult to deliver continuity of care to at-risk elderly people.
The RCGP said general practice was at "breaking point" and called for an emergency package of investment like the £500m bailout given to A&E departments last week.
Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the RCGP, warned that if general practice "starts to crumble" there could be "disastrous" consequences for patients.
She told Sky News: "Around about 90% of all NHS activity is carried out in general practice for only 9% of the budget.
"GPs are what makes the NHS cost effective. A year of care by a GP is about the same as a hospital might get for one attendance in the emergency department.
"Yet what we're finding is that the investment is being put into hospitals but it's general practice that needs the help because if it folds then the rest of the NHS will be unsustainable.
"Last week the English Government announced an additional £500m for A&E departments. What we need is our fair share of funding so that GPs can do more for our patients in their communities."
Ben Dyson, director of commissioning policy and primary care at NHS England, said: "We fully recognise that demands and patterns of healthcare are changing, and that this is increasing pressure on parts of the NHS.
"That's why we have recently published a 'call to action' about the future of general practice to help stimulate new, innovative approaches to providing services and ensuring every patient gets the care they need.
"Our key aim is to enable GP practices both to provide more coordinated care for people with more complex needs and to provide more accessible and responsive service, in conjunction with partners in community and social care."