GPs 'firefighting' to keep up with rising demand

GPs are "constantly firefighting" as they try to keep up with demand, a top doctor has said.

Family doctors are "really struggling", Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said.

The chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs said that family doctors are facing a "constantly escalating" workload while they do not have enough money to keep up with demand.

The comments come as the College issued a plea for a rise in funds.

In a new report, the College has assessed the GP Forward View, an initiative launched in April 2016 which promised a 5,000 more GPs and an additional £2.4 billion to be invested in general practice each year by 2021.

But the College has called for investment in general practice to increase to £14.5bn by 2020/21, which is £2.5bn more than currently planned in the GP Forward View.

It added that since the plan was published in 2016, the workforce is now 6,000 GPs short.

NHS England said that it was creating a long-term plan for the future of the health service and accused the College of "plucking implausible figures from the air".

Top doctor calls for more funding for "struggling" general practice (PA)

The RCGP has called on the health body to overhaul the plans.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: "We are not turning our back on the GP Forward View, it remains the most constructive, indeed only, solution to tackling the intense resource and workforce pressures facing general practice, and it is making good strides in some areas.

"But it needs an urgent overhaul to address the pledges that are not progressing fast enough, particularly around retaining our existing workforce and reducing our workload; and to recognise the changing landscape of NHS funding, which now includes a promise of £20bn extra a year by 2023."

She added: "Of course, we need to work differently in general practice, but GPs and our teams across the country are struggling - and that makes innovation almost impossible.

"Our workload is constantly escalating, both in volume and complexity, and we are constantly firefighting, trying to keep up with demand, without enough resources to do so."

An NHS England spokeswoman said: "GPs play a vital role, which is why the NHS is on track to increase primary care spending by an extra £2.4billion by 2020.

"Rather than individual lobbying groups plucking implausible figures from the air, the NHS is now carefully developing a long term plan for affordable and phased improvements over the coming decade."

The news comes as NHS Digital announced that all eligible GP practices across London switched to using an electronic prescription service.

A total of 1,311 GP surgeries across the capital now use the service that means patients' prescription can be sent directly from their doctor's surgery to their pharmacist, without the need for paper prescriptions.

The system is being rolled out nationally.

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