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16.10.17

BMA: Patients need action on overwhelmed GP practices

BMA officials have urged action over lack of funding for GP practices as the number of new patients soar, with an NHS Digital report finding that numbers have risen by more than 2.6 million in the last four years.

The report showed that Britain had almost 59 million registered patients on 1 October this year, with over 100,000 people registering in the last month alone.

But the BMA argued the increase in GP registrations is not mirrored by greater funding from the government and that the situation cannot continue in this way.

To justify this, the medical union pointed to its own survey from September, which showed a huge number of surgeries were oversubscribed. The study concluded that 54% of practices said they would consider temporarily suspending new patient registration, while 44% considered applying for a permanent list closure.

“Whilst 2.6 million additional patients have registered with GP practices in the last four years the funding and staffing levels provided by the government to GP practices have simply not kept pace with this rising demand,” commented Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair.

“Not only are GPs treating more people than ever before, the complexity of problems they have to deal with has increased as people live longer with more long-term conditions. This is creating a climate where GP services are struggling to cope with unsustainable workload and deliver the care their local communities need.”

Ultimately, practices need urgent funding that matches “the understandable demand from patients,” claimed Vautrey.

“There were more warm words from the secretary of state this week, but patients need action and not more pledges from politicians,” he concluded.

This not the first time the BMA has called for increases in staff and funding across the NHS, often pointing to specific shortages across many medical specialisations and a lack of action on the looming winter crisis and its impact on emergency departments.

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