RCGP news

This page shows a summary of the latest news from the Royal College of General Practitioners RSS News Feed.

College launches new MyRCGP app

College members can now keep up-to-date with College news 'on the move' via the new MyRCGP app.

qr code for MyRCGPMyRCGP enables all members to access the latest e-learning, courses, and events in their local region – and filter these by their chosen topical interests.

It has clinical toolkits and a range of guidance, including NICE guidelines, to support GPs and primary care teams on the frontline of patient care.

GPs can see their College membership benefits 'at a glance' and will also be notified of College media statements and events specific to their local faculty, along with opportunities to participate via in-app surveys.

The College will continue to develop the app over the coming months, with features including Member Communities and blogs, podcasts and short videos to support members with their CPD and clinical work.

Professor Mike Holmes, RCGP Vice Chair for Membership, said: "GPs are busy people and our members need immediate access to important College news. We've worked with our members throughout the process to ensure they get the information they want and need.

"This is just the beginning, and there will be many more exciting features added over the coming months to help our GPs make the most of their College membership, as well as supporting them in their work to care for patients."

Statement on Covid-19 (coronavirus)

Latest statement from the Royal College of GPs on Statement on Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "We're closely monitoring updates from relevant authorities, such as Public Health England (PHE) and equivalent organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"The current threat to the UK is still considered moderate and while eight cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK, NHS England and PHE are assuring patients that there are robust arrangements in place to manage the situation.

"Patients should not be alarmed as it is still more likely that anyone with flu-like symptoms will have the flu.

"However, in light of the members of staff who tested positive for coronavirus in Brighton we'd like to remind the public that it is vital that any patient who thinks they may have symptoms does not try to attend a GP appointment or hospital emergency departments in person. They should stay at home and call NHS 111, advising the call handler if they have recently travelled back from one of the following places: China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and/or Macau.

"Should a patient arrive at a GP surgery with potential symptoms and who has recently travelled to an affected area, practice staff should place them in isolation, where possible. Current PHE guidelines should then be followed.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all travel to Hubei province in China, and all but essential travel to mainland China. It is also recommending that anybody who has returned from China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and/or Macau in the last 14 days stays indoors and avoids contact with other people where possible – and that they advise health authorities of their situation by calling NHS 111."

Scrapping partnership model won't help meet workforce targets, says RCGP

Responding to the latest Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report 'Realising the neighbourhood NHS: Delivering a new deal for primary care in England' Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "The College is hugely supportive of the partnership model of general practice, within a mixed and flexible economy of contractual models. It allows GPs to innovate in the best interests of local populations and it provides excellent value for money for the NHS.

"We are also optimistic about Primary Care Networks, which sound similar to the Neighbourhood Care Providers advocated in this report, and PCNs and the partnership model are not mutually exclusive – it is essential that partnerships work effectively with and within PCNs to deliver high-quality place-based care to patients. However, PCNs need to be given the time, space and support to effectively develop and to build connections within the wider NHS system, in order to deliver place-based care that meets the local needs of their patients.

"Scrapping the partnership model is certainly not the solution to the pressures facing general practice, improving patient access, or meeting the Government's target to build the workforce by 6,000 full-time-equivalent GPs.

"Last year's independent review into the partnership model clearly stated that it is an important model, and viable career option for GPs at all stages of their careers – but that there are key issues that need addressing, most salient being the need to reduce unnecessary workload in general practice and expand the workforce.

"The new GP contract, published yesterday, is a step in the right direction and financially supports GPs into partnership roles through a new scheme. We also need the forthcoming NHS People Plan to include comprehensive plans on how they plan to train and recruit more GPs and other staff, as well as retain existing GPs in the profession and encourage more GPs into partner roles - and tackling 'undoable' workload should be a starting point. On top of this, we need to see continued support for PCNs to be allowed to achieve their potential."

New GP contract 'catalyst' to deliver promised funding and workforce to general practice, says RCGP

Responding to the new GP contract negotiated by the General Practitioners Committee of the BMA and NHS England, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"This is an encouraging contract and we thank our colleagues at the General Practitioners Committee of the BMA for their negotiations on our behalf.

"We hope it will serve as a catalyst to deliver the funding and workforce pledges that have been made and are so desperately needed to ensure general practice is sustainable in the future.

"This contract should help us to deliver services that will be beneficial for patients whilst relieving workload and providing much needed support for hard pressed GPs.

"We are pleased that NHS England has responded to many of the recommendations made by the College in our recent Workforce Roadmap and has listened to the profession by making their proposed specifications for Primary Care Networks, which caused great consternation within the profession, less onerous. This should help to ensure that Primary Care Networks have the time and space to succeed."

College can't support FGM screening in general practice without evidence of its benefit for patients

In response to the latest manifesto from ACTION: FGM, a coalition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) survivors, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Female Genital Mutation (FGM) is a horrific crime that affects women and girls around the world, including here in the UK, with serious long-term and in some cases fatal implications. It's appalling that it is still happening in the 21st century.

"The College views FGM as child abuse and we support ACTION: FGM's overall commitment to eradicate this crime by 2030. But there is currently no evidence that screening for FGM works – or analysis of the potential and unintended harms this could lead to - so we do not support GPs and other healthcare professionals working in general practice having to do this.

"This is not to say that GPs do not have a role in identifying women and girls who have had or who are at risk of FGM and it remains vital that GPs are aware of the symptoms, legal and safeguarding protocols and support networks that are available for these patients."

RCGP also responded to a Daily Telegraph article 'Every woman and girl should be screened for 'barbaric' FGM practice, coalition of police, barristers and charities urge'. An abridged version of this letter has been published today.

Sir,

It is appalling that Female Genital Mutilation is happening in the 21st Century. Whilst the Royal College of GPs supports ACTION: FGM's overall commitment eradicate this horrific crime by 2030, there is no evidence that GPs screening for FGM will help achieve this and the process could carry unintended and harmful consequences.

Until there is evidence of its benefit, the RCGP cannot support FGM screening being introduced into general practice, however well-intended.

Professor Martin Marshall, 
Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners
London, NW1

College defends GPs on lung cancer diagnosis

The RCGP has responded to a Guardian article 'Late diagnosis of lung cancer hitting survival rate, study says' that featured on Friday 31 January. This letter has been published today.

Sir,

It is wrong to put the blame of late-stage lung cancer diagnosis on GPs, who overall are doing a good job of referring patients with suspected cancers, with more than 75% of patients who are found to have cancer being referred after just one or two consultations.

The symptoms of lung cancer – principally a prolonged cough – are also symptoms of more common, less serious conditions, making the decision to refer a difficult one, as it must be balanced with risks associated with overdiagnosis, and overburdening specialist services.

GPs need better access to diagnostic tests in the community and training to use them and interpret the results so that our decision to refer can be as informed as it possibly can be.

What GPs don't need is undue criticism for a situation beyond their control when they are working under intense pressure, without the sufficient time or resources required to provide the holistic care that GPs excel at delivering.

Professor Martin Marshall
Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners
London, NW1

Workload and lack of time with patients must be tackled to address GP burnout

Responding to research in the BMJ Open on stress and burn out in doctors, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"Doctors across the NHS work hard for their patients, but GPs and our teams are at the front line of delivering patient care and demand for our services is escalating, so it isn't surprising that this research has found that we, alongside our colleagues in Emergency Departments, are most at risk of burn out.

"Workload in general practice is rapidly increasing in terms of volume and complexity, yet the resources we have to deal with this are inadequate and the numbers of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent GPs working in the NHS is falling. This situation is leading to many GPs burning out and leaving the profession earlier than planned.

"We also lack the time we need with our patients to provide the holistic care that GPs excel at delivering. Particularly at a time when more patients are living with multiple, long-term conditions, the standard 10-minute consultation is increasingly unfit for purpose, yet offering longer consultations would mean offering fewer, and many GP practices are already booked up weeks in advance.

"We need to see effective retention strategies being implemented nationwide to keep GPs in the profession longer – and reducing what has become an 'undoable' workload is key to ensuring that more experienced GPs can have sustainable careers in the NHS, both delivering safe patient care, and mentoring the next generation of GPs."

Planned Belfast GP closures shows need for investment

The chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners NI has branded news that two GP practices serving thousands of patients in Belfast are set to close as terrible for both staff and patients.

Speaking about the planned closures Dr Laurence Dorman RCGPNI Chair said:

"The potential closure of these two respected Belfast practices are terrible news for GPs, practice teams and their patients. Unfortunately, they are not surprising. From 2014-2019, 23 other GP practices have closed or merged across NI and we know there is a risk of more closures this financial year."

RCGPNI has highlighted the closure of GP practices in NI as alarming and flagged up the trend in its recent vision report Support Sustain Renew launched in November 2019. In this same report RCGPNI highlighted the drop in GP practices from 350 in 2014 to 327 in 2018/2019 as well as a stressed-out workforce with 32% of GPs saying they feel so stressed that they can't cope at least once or twice a week.

"In recent months we have spoken to health leaders about how difficult it is to run a practice. GPs and our teams are working to our absolute limits to provide safe, high-quality care, while under intense pressure," Dr Dorman said.

"When a practice closes for whatever reason it is incredibly difficult for everyone involved - especially patients. Generations of institutional knowledge about patients and their families can be lost and there also follows a ripple effect, where neighbouring practices become at risk of destabilisation.

"Now Stormont is returned we welcome the drive for reform of our health and social care system. 90% of NI’s population engage with the health service starting at the appointment with their trusted GP. We urgently need investment in our workforce and premises as well as strategies to address unsustainable workload pressures on GPs and their teams. If health services are to be delivered in community and GP settings, then Stormont needs to ensure general practice has the workforce, resources, and investment we desperately need to continue providing world-class patient care, both now and in the future. The introduction of Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) could help ensure patients see the best health professional quickly while retaining the continuity of care from their own family doctor. The sudden closure of practices will make this much more difficult to introduce, and we urge the speedy roll out of this investment."

Energy conference cancelled after College concerns

The College has announced today that an oil and gas conference due to take place at its headquarters has been cancelled

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "We deeply regret that a booking was accepted to host an event at our headquarters that conflicts with the College'slongstanding commitment to combat the impact of climate change on the environment and on the health of our patients.

"The conference in question was clearly not a College event, but it would have compromised our integrity as the first medical Royal College to divest from fossil fuel companies. We are extremely conscious of the irreversible damage being caused by gas, electricity and oil companies in their exploitation of energy reserves, and the direct link this has on greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our building at 30 Euston Square also operates as an external conference venue, contracted by us to a third party event management company. Whilst there is guidance about who can use the College premises, it did not explicitly exclude fossil fuel companies. This was an oversight on our part and we apologise to our members and thank them for their patience while we worked through a number of complicated issues, including the legal implications of our action.

"We are already in the process of reviewing the contractual agreement in place and the policies we have with the event management company. We are also reviewing our College sponsorship policy and will ensure that any third party activity is aligned with this to guard against a similar situation ever happening again in future."

RCGP launches trailblazing LGBT e-learning suite for family doctors

We want to ensure LGBT patients receive good, safe care, says Chair of RCGP as, together with the Government Equalities Office (GEO), we launch a suite of e-learning resources to support GPs to deliver the best possible care for LGBT patients.

The Royal College of GPs, in partnership with the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has launched a suite of e-learning resources to support GPs and other healthcare professionals to deliver the best possible care for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) patients.

The six new online learning modules, as well as podcasts and screencasts, aim to ensure users have access to evidence-based, up-to-date information to deal with the unique health needs LGBT patients may have.

The first-of-its-kind learning hub is designed to be accessible to busy GPs working under considerable time pressures with modules ranging from 15-30 minutes in length. The six modules are:

  • Inequality in healthcare provision - the current state of LGBT health: providing a current overview of LGBT health in the UK, identifying health inequalities and exploring how these could be improved.
  • Creating an inclusive primary care environment: exploring changes that can be made both in the GP surgery and during the GP-patient consultation to have a positive impact on LGBT patient outcomes.
  • Mental health and suicide prevention: highlighting health, wellbeing and service provision issues affecting LGBT patients and looking at how they can be addressed.
  • Screening issues in the LGBT population: exploring issues around screening in the LGBT community, specifically best practice for the cervical smear process in trans men and non-binary people with a cervix.
  • The older LGBT patient: exploring the unique health needs of older LGBT patients
  • Sexual and reproductive needs of the LGBT community: exploring sexual and reproductive health needs of LGBT patients, including advice for LGB women who wish to conceive and the use of pre and post exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV.

In 2017, there were an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK, aged 16 and over, who identified as LGB1. According to the latest National LGBT survey, the community can experience inequalities when accessing healthcare. To address this, the RCGP was commissioned by the GEO as one of 13 organisations to deliver the government's LGBT Action Plan.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the RCGP, said: "GPs are highly-trained to deliver high-quality, non-judgemental care to all our patients. We want to ensure LGBT patients receive good, safe care, and that they can access our services when they need them.

"We hope that the new e-learning resources – based on the latest clinical evidence – will prove valuable in supporting frontline GPs and our teams to deliver the best possible care for every LGBT patient we see."

Baroness Williams, Minister for Equalities, said: "Everyone must be able to access appropriate healthcare and be treated with respect no matter their sexuality.

"It's great medical professionals now have access to these online modules, allowing this vital training to fit around their busy schedules, developing their delivery of LGBT inclusive healthcare." -