RCGP: Extra GP appointments ‘cannot happen overnight’ and must be backed by investment and support for GPs and their practices, says College

The Royal College of GPs has responded to the Conservative Party’s pledge to create 50m additional GP appointments by 2024/25.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Waiting times for a GP appointment have become the national conversation – and GPs are as frustrated as our patients, especially when we are working flat out to try and keep up with rising demand at the same time as we have a severe shortage of GPs and practice staff.

“We are keen to hear of any proposals to reduce waiting times – and it’s encouraging that the pledges outlined today do not appear to come with strings attached about imposing arbitrary access targets or with unrealistic timelines, which might win votes but will risk setting back general practice by 20 years.

“Crucially, patients cannot expect this to happen overnight as more appointments will only happen when other promises are delivered first, and as always the devil will be in the detail.

“There are over 300 million consultations – and rising – in England alone every year, and without the hard work and dedication of GPs and our teams, the rest of the NHS would collapse. 

“After years when our family doctor service has been in the doldrums, it would seem that our messages seem to be getting through to the politicians about the value that GPs add and the enormous contribution we make to the health service and to patient care.

“We welcome the commitments to recruit more GPs and practice staff and retain existing GPs, especially the recognition that previous commitments for boosting our workforce have not focused sufficiently on retaining existing GPs.

“Our own manifesto #Back GP sets out the action we need to make general practice fit for the future.

“But we need urgent action – both funding and extra staff  – to support the GPs who are currently keeping general practice afloat, but are grappling with unmanageable workloads as we go above and beyond to do the best for our patients, often to the detriment of our own health and wellbeing.”