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Nearly three-quarters of GPs worry winter workload will worsen patient care


By Jess Hacker
7 December 2021

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As many as 73% of GPs have reported they are worried  their workload will negatively impact their ability to provide care for patients over the next few months, an RCGP Scotland survey has shown.

Around four in five (81%) GPs who responded to the Annual Tracking Survey said more patients come to see their GP every winter, however 56% did not think their patients understood it can be harder to secure an appointment during the winter.

The findings, which surveyed 235 GPs and was published 6 December, have come a month after health secretary Sajid Javid admitted that the Government is not on track to meet its election pledge to recruit 6,000 additional FTE GPs by 2025.

Dr David Shackles, joint chair of RCGP Scotland, said the winter period ‘always’ brings increased pressure for general practice, but that the survey indicates GPs ‘simply do not have the capacity’ to take on further workload.

‘Traditionally, over the winter period, there is no doubt that GP workloads increase, and we are extremely concerned about the impact this is likely to have on practice staff who are already finding it difficult to cope this year,’ he said.

And throughout the year, 70% of GPs reported working longer than they are contracted for, with nearly a third (28%) feeling so stressed they can’t cope at least once or twice a week or more often.

The College called for the NHS to introduce measures to guarantee protected time for practice teams to regroup and share information and support.

Earlier in the summer, LMCs warned there was a ‘very real prospect’ that GP practices would have to close temporarily or permanently this winter among rising workload and staffing issues.

Two weeks ago MPs voted in favour of scrapping an amendment to the Health and Care Bill which would have granted greater transparency on NHS workforce numbers.

The amendment, had it been passed, would have seen a Government report on NHS staffing produced every two years. The Bill is entering its second reading in the House of Lords today.

In its place, the House of Commons health and social care committee announced it would launch an inquiry into NHS workforce recruitment, training and retention.

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