General practice appointments data released last week shows the enormous efforts that everyone in general practice is making to ensure patients can access the services they need. The total number of appointments for September is now higher than any time during the pandemic, and significantly higher than the same time last year. This comes at a time where the patient population continues to increase while the number of GPs has significantly decreased.
Added to that, the results of a BMA survey, show that the total number of appointments only conveys part of the story, with remote consultations taking longer, which leaves GP staff more tired and with longer working days as a result. The results highlight how staff are working harder, are concerned that they are going to have difficulty meeting demand in the next few months, and are starting to burn out. The current general increased demand on primary care, added to the extraordinary efforts to manage the COVID response, are simply unsustainable and the BMA has asked for more support.
The BMA also met with Sir Simon last month to highlight the dire state of the morale of the profession. Sir Simon expressed his support for general practice, but since then practice workload has increased further. Alongside this, there has been significant, unfounded and unchallenged media criticism of general practice, which is deeply concerning. This is not only adding to this problem, but is also leading to adverse reactions from the public toward their practices, with recent reports of practice staff being abused and harassed.
We would request patients’ understanding of the pressures practices are facing and their continued support in the face of this un-remitting pandemic.