The average number of patients each individual GP is responsible for has increased by 15%, or around 300 people, since 2015, the BMA has said.
This is due to the ‘slow but steady haemorrhaging’ of GPs over the last few years, which has led to pressures on services growing ‘even more acute’, it suggested.
The Association’s statement comes in response to the latest GP workforce data – published by NHS Digital (10 February) – which showed that 188 FTE GPs left between December 2020 and December 2021.
Dr Farah Jameel, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said the figures are the direct result of an ‘over-stretched’ and ‘under-resourced’ NHS.
She said: ‘Family doctors, exhausted and disenchanted, feel as though they have no choice but to leave a profession they love because of chronic pressures now made worse by the pandemic. Workload has dramatically increased, there are fewer staff in practices to meet patient needs.’
Insufficient staffing is particularly concerning as the backlog for care continues to grow, she suggested, with many GPs believing ‘the day job is just no longer safe, sustainable or possible anymore’.
The NHS and the Government must work to retain current staff as its ‘immediate priority’ and must urgently refocus on retention strategies as a key enabler for the NHS’ recovery.
She said: ‘The Government has repeatedly argued that the number of doctors is growing, but this isn’t the reality for general practice, and it begs the question: how many more have to go before something is finally done about it? Our NHS is the people who work in it, and without them, the entire system and provision of patient care is under threat.’
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Source: Management in Practice, 11 February 2022