RCGP news

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

New report on doctors' wellbeing strengthens case for urgent action to tackle GP pressures and workload, says College

Responding to the GMC's independent Caring for Doctors, Caring for Patients report, RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said:

"If our doctors are healthy, our patients are much more likely to receive the best possible care, and it is really encouraging to see a report that so explicitly makes the link between the wellbeing of doctors and patient care.

"We are also pleased to see a strong focus on GPs and primary care – the GMC has obviously gone to a lot of effort to ensure that the recommendations apply to GPs, as well as to doctors working in hospital trusts, and we are grateful for this.

"Unlike hospital doctors who often work in large teams, GPs are more likely to work autonomously in our one-to one consultations with our patients in our surgeries. This is one of the strengths of being a GP, but working in isolation brings its own challenges and it is good to see this acknowledged – along with the specific recommendations for improving team work and peer support, informed by current evidence on GP wellbeing.

"We are delighted that the success of the College's own First5 programme has been recognised and that some of the profession want to see it adapted, adopted and extended to include all GPs.

"The majority of NHS patient care is delivered in general practice - over 300 million consultations a year and rising – and GPs are working harder than ever to do the best we possibly can for our patients.

"But investment in our family doctor service – both funding and staff - has not kept pace with patient demand and complexity. We now have a severe shortage of GPs and many colleagues are exhausted and burning out as they constantly try to go the extra mile for their patients, without appropriate support.

"Today's GMC report strengthens our case for urgent action to tackle unsustainable GP workloads and the pressures associated with trying to care for patients with complex needs within a traditional 10-minute appointment that is no longer fit-for purpose.

"It also highlights that our health service could take better care of those working in it. GPs dedicate their lives to caring for others, but we also need to feel valued, respected, and cared for too."

General practice is a 'big ticket' issue for General Election – but GPs and patients will want swift action from new government, says RCGP

Responding to Labour's announcement of an NHS 'Rescue Plan', Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"We are pleased to see that general practice and the enormous contribution of GPs to the NHS has become such a 'big ticket' issue in this General Election, as demonstrated by the important announcements from the two main political parties in a matter of days.

"This recognition is long overdue: 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.

"Yet our profession has been allowed to languish, and lack of investment and workforce challenges mean that we are working harder and longer than ever to try and keep pace with demand, against the backdrop of a severe shortage of doctors.

"It is essential that at least 11% of the NHS budget is spent on general practice to ensure that GPs and our teams are able to deliver the best care, close to home, for our patients.

"The announcement of the expansion of GP training to 5,000 places per year is a very welcome step towards boosting the GP workforce, but there must also be far more support for doctors currently in the profession who are struggling with unmanageable workloads, often at the expense of own health, in some cases even to the point of burnout.

"The general practice estate - the GP surgeries where we provide care to our patients - has historically been neglected and underfunded in many areas so we are pleased to see this acknowledged in today's announcement, especially as 50% of practices say their premises are not currently fit for purpose.

"But it is critical that any pledges put forward by the political parties are about long term support for general practice, rather than short-term fixes that will merely serve as a sticking plaster.

"Our own manifesto #BackGP sets out what we need to make general practice fit for the future.

"GPs - and our patients - will be expecting swift delivery of these General Election promises, whatever the new government looks like in a few weeks' time."

Vital that patients who need the skills of a GP can access them - but home visits do take GPs out of surgery where they could be seeing more patients, says RCGP

The RCGP has responded to Local Medical Committee proposals on the future of home visits.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"GPs and our teams are under enormous pressure and are working flat out to try and keep pace with rising patient demand.

"We have a severe shortage of GPs and many practices are having to make very difficult decisions about where best to allocate their time and resources in order to deliver the maximum benefit for their patients.

"Home visits can be very time consuming and take the GP away from the surgery when they could be seeing other patients, and where there are far better facilities to properly assess patients.

"But for some of our more complex and vulnerable patients, home visits are an invaluable, and often the only, means of seeing their GP.

"We are very supportive of proposals to train other members of the GP team such as physician associates and advanced paramedics to carry out home visits as appropriate, but they are not a substitute for GPs and it is vital that patients who need the skills of a GP are able to access them.

"Ultimately, this proposal will be for the BMA, as the doctors' union, to decide, but it would need a lot of consideration and any changes would need to be widely and sensitively communicated to patients.

"Meanwhile, we would urge our patients requesting a home visit to consider very carefully whether they really need one, so that valuable GP time is spent most wisely on those patients who need it most."

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

The College 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."

Parents must not panic – or blame GPs for flu vaccine shortages, says College

The Royal College of GPs has responded to Public Health England's announcement on shortages of flu nasal spray - particularly affecting schools – and advising parents to have children vaccinated at their GP surgery instead

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "This is not the news we wanted to hear, but we must urge parents not to panic - and not to blame GPs if their surgery is unable to cope with the extra demand.

"As always, GP teams will pull out all the stops for our patients and will try our best to plug the gaps so that as many primary school children as possible, particularly those in high risk groups,  are vaccinated, but we were not anticipating this news and we cannot conjure extra vaccines out of thin air.

"GPs and their teams plan meticulously for the flu season every year and we work incredibly hard to deliver the vaccination programme as efficiently and quickly as we can, but this situation has knocked our plans out of kilter and some surgeries simply will not have the resources to provide extra flu clinics at short notice.

"We have been assured that Public Health England are working hard to remedy the situation.

"In the meantime, we ask our patients to bear with us – and not to lose trust in the flu vaccination programme. It really is the best protection you can get, and we hope the whole programme will be back to full capacity as soon as possible."

No-deal Brexit will damage patient care and the NHS, says College in new General Election manifesto

A no-deal Brexit will be 'hugely damaging' to patient care and 'must be avoided', warns the Royal College of GPs in its General Election manifesto, published today.

#Back GP – A manifesto for general practice and patient care outlines the critical risk to general practice and the NHS of leaving the EU without a deal, not least the threat to the supply of medicines and medical devices for patients.

At a time when general practice is already experiencing a severe shortage of GPs, the College is concerned that it will become even harder to recruit and retain vital EU staff in the NHS as there is no guarantee that professional qualifications will continue to be mutually recognised as a UK-wide College, it is also worried that a hard border in Northern Ireland would cause significant damage to cross-border healthcare arrangements.

The RCGP is calling on political parties to #BackGP by committing the next government to investing 11% of the NHS budget in frontline general practice. Despite carrying out over 300 million consultations each year, general practice receives less than 10% of the NHS budget.

Other 'asks' in the manifesto include:

  • 5,000 additional GPs in England to tackle the urgent GP workforce crisis, as well as a pledge to expand members of the wider practice team
  • Upgraded and purpose-built GP premises, including high-speed broadband for every GP surgery in the UK, so that patients are seen in modern fit-for purpose surgeries
  • 5000 more GP training places per year in England and enhanced GP training to reflect the challenges and complexities of modern general practice; and
  • Greater support for GP teams so they can continue to provide high quality patient care.

RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes Lampard said: "Our patients and the public love our NHS, and for 300 million patients a year – and rising - general practice is the frontline of the NHS.

"The main political parties have already made the NHS a key focus of their campaigns, but the last thing we want to see are vote-winning gimmicks. It is vital that their commitments are realistic and that they support our family doctor service.

"The pressures on general practice are unprecedented. Our patients' needs are becoming more complex and the traditional 10-minute consultation is no longer fit for purpose.

"We need more time with our patients but we are already going above and beyond to try and keep pace with demand, often to the detriment of our own health and wellbeing. We simply don't have enough GPs and practice staff to cope and patients are having to wait longer and longer for an appointment.

"Investment in general practice is investment in the entire NHS. The College is politically neutral but we care deeply about what matters to our patients and to our profession.

"The next Government – whatever its political allegiance – must give GPs and our teams the support we need to do our jobs properly so that we can continue to provide safe and high quality care to our patients, well into the future.

"Any political party that ignores general practice does so at the peril of our patients and the NHS."

RCGP Scotland comment on increasing undergraduate education in primary care

Commenting on the release of Professor John Gillies' report on Undergraduate Medical Education in Scotland, Dr Carey Lunan, Chair of RCGP Scotland, said:

"It is essential that the Scottish Government does all it can to expand the GP workforce to manage the rising volume and complexity of their workload. This announcement will go some way towards achieving that.

We know that increased undergraduate exposure to general practice through high-quality placements is a key factor in influencing the career choice of medical students, so we are pleased to see that the Government has announced that an additional £5 million will be spent on GP education funding.

An increase in the tariff paid to GP practices towards the costs of teaching undergraduates will bring us more in line with the resource offered to hospitals to deliver medical student teaching and will enable more GP practices to be able to become involved with growing our future workforce."

RCGP Annual Conference - Day 3 highlights

On the final day of the RCGP's Annual Conference in Liverpool, RCGP Scotland Chair, Dr Carey Lunan, will compere a debate between Professor Mike Holmes and Professor Clare Gerada on whether the future of general practice lies in the partnership model.

Former RCGP President and GP communications expert, Dr Roger Neighbour, will speak on 'Zen and the art of leadership' – and current RCGP President, Mayur Lakhani, and RCGP Chair-Elect, Martin Marshall will also address delegates.

Other sessions today include:

Mental health in older people

As our population ages, it is crucial to ensure that older people's mental health not only attains parity with physical health diagnostics and care, but parity with other age groups. This session explores diagnostic, monitoring and medication management techniques in older people with mental health conditions.

Improving GP access for vulnerable people

This session looks at how GP practices can become accessible to patients from marginalised groups. It will outline the effects of poor access on patient health, how to identify and remove barriers, and manage challenging behaviours in a safe manner.

Art and wellbeing

An interactive workshop that explores how creative processes can be used to achieve greater wellbeing for patients, and how this idea can be incorporated into primary care.

RCGP Annual Conference - Day 2 highlights

On the second day of the RCGP Annual Primary Care Conference in Liverpool, our NHS 'Question Time' panel will debate some of the major issues in healthcare.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair; Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, Workforce Lead for the GP Committee of the BMA; and Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of General Practice will be on the panel, hosted by RCGP Chair-Elect Professor Martin Marshall.

Also appearing on the panel are Dr Austin O'Carroll, Dublin GP and pioneer of GP training in deprived areas; and Dr Jodie Blackadder-Weinstein, Chair of the RCGP First5 Committee.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the Institute of Health Equity (UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health) will also deliver the John Hunt lecture, discussing 'Social Justice, Health Equity and the Social Determinants of Health'.

Other sessions today will explore:

Serious violence and exploitation in Liverpool

What do young people say about their lives and the effect of living with violence? This session from the Liverpool Youth Violence Intervention programme will present steps taken to address this growing problem, including a scheme that has based a youth worker in a city A&E department. 

Social media and mental health

The session will explore the impact of social media on both patients' and doctors' mental health, reviewing the existing evidence though case studies, and experiences from the panel and audience.

Primary care Networks

 PCNs are the latest structural development in primary care in England, and two sessions today will examine how their implementation is progressing since the NHS Long-Term Plan and GP contract were published - and how the networks are working within the wider health and care landscape. 

Daffodil Standards

The RCGP and Marie Curie have developed the Daffodil Standards - an evidence-based QI tool for general practice to improve the quality of care for people with advanced serious illness and end of life care needs. The session will demonstrate practical ways to offer step-by-step improvements for patient care near or at the end of life.

Short papers are also being presented today on topics including the outcomes of an integrated approach to epilepsy in primary care; delivering care to communities affected by FGM; and how UK general practice can learn from Austria and Germany.

RCGP Annual Conference - Day 1 highlights

Almost 2,000 GPs and primary care professionals will gather in Liverpool today for the first day of the RCGP Annual Primary Care Conference.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard will take to the stage for her final annual address as RCGP Chair, reflecting on her three years in office and giving her 'message of hope with a note of caution' for the future.

Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the General Medical Council and Becky Malby, Professor of Health Systems Innovation at London's Southbank University will also speak – and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, is due to give a video address.

Other sessions today will explore:

Artificial intelligence

A session looking at the arguments for and against the use of AI in clinical settings based on real-life experiences – it will discuss the patient safety, moral and ethical considerations of AI for healthcare.

New and emerging roles in general practice

Expert GP speakers will explore some of the challenges, cautions and opportunities from emerging roles across healthcare including occupational therapists, social prescribers and clinical practitioners and what needs to be done to ensure they have a positive impact on general practice and patient care.

Learning from military training

Immersive, hi-fidelity simulation to re-create and teach battlefield care has been used in military GP training for decades and is now being applied to civilian scenarios. This session will discuss the benefits, challenges and limitations of this learning method for trainee

Short papers will also be presented on topics including the impact of weather variations, sporting events and the media on patient demand in general practice; effectiveness of B12 testing; latest thinking around sudden unexplained death in childhood; standing desks in consultation rooms; and digital interventions for children's healthcare.