I’m very pleased to announce that we now have the results of our largest ever UK survey of GPs.
We received 15,560 responses, which is a huge response and shows how strongly GPs feel about the state of general practice.
A big thanks to all of you for finding the time to provide us with this essential feedback, when I know we are all struggling with excessive workload.
The survey results will be invaluable in helping us to represent your views in our conversations with an incoming Government after the general election.
In the meantime, we will be releasing the survey findings over the coming weeks around specific themes.
The first results, full details of which are on the BMA website, show only too clearly that GPs feel that consultation times are wholly inadequate, and that our workload pressures are now directly affecting the quality of care we can provide.
The responses also bring sharply into focus the practical dissonance between pre-election political pronouncements of quicker access and longer opening hours, against a background of practices overstretched with inadequate capacity to meet current needs:
To improve patient care, GPs recommended:
These findings reflect the reality of the GP consultation having radically changed since I qualified, with GPs now managing multiple complex conditions in a single appointment, seeing patients who previously were seen in longer hospital slots, together with an escalation in the data recorded on computer screens.
What ultimately matters to patients is that the doctor they see has time to listen, examine, investigate, diagnose, explain and manage their care. Ten minutes is now utterly inadequate for so many of our patients – those with complex needs, multiple morbidity, communication barriers, mental health issues etc – and forces GPs to work in a system of excessive workload and conveyor-belt slots that prevent them from doing their best.
Not only is this deeply de-professionalising for GPs, it will do nothing to attract young doctors to choose a career in general practice – a pan-party political pledge.
Current proposals for increased access from politicians of all sides, from seven-day opening to 48-hour appointments, would simply make this worse. Given the current inadequate numbers in the GP workforce – something which politicians claim to agree on – GPs would have to be spread even more thinly to cover the additional hours or give patients less time to meet unrealistic appointment timescales.
Our survey showed that GPs believe that providing safe and quality patient care through longer consultations should be the priority, even if this unfortunately means patients waiting longer to see their GPs for a routine problem.
These findings demand that the priority for an incoming Government must be to give general practice the resources and capacity for GPs to be able to do our job of caring for patients, and put an end to being forced to work to political headlines at the expense of our patients.
Please do publicise these results in whichever way you can, including to your patient groups, as well as via social media. We will be releasing further results in the coming weeks in the lead up to the general election.
With best wishes,
BMA GPs committee chair