Over a quarter of GP practices now deal with more than 10,000 patients across the country.
A new report published by NHS Digital compared the proportion of practices by list size between October 2013 and October 2017.
It revealed that list sizes have been in steady decline over the past four years.
The biggest change concerns practices that have between 2,000 and 3,999 patients. In October 2013, NHS Digital registered 22,5% of these compared to 16.5% four years ago.
In addition to that, around 59 million patients registered at GP practices in October 2017, which represents 113,149 more patients in only a month.
‘Desperate need’ for staff
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) chair, said: ‘The phenomenon of growing patient numbers, and a lack of GPs to deal with growing demand is a long-running trend, and something the College has been drawing attention to for many years.
‘As a result, many GP practices are seeing escalating patient lists they simply can’t deal with – although we must recognise that sometimes increasing list numbers are due to practices merging and pooling their resources.
‘We desperately need more GPs and more practice staff to be able to deliver the care our patients need and deserve.
Suspending new registrations
In a British Medical Association (BMA) survey conducted last month, 54% of GP practices revealed that they would consider temporarily suspending new patient registration.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘The fact that even a single surgery has reached the point where it would consider a suspension of new patient registration or closing its patient list fully shows that government promises to rescue GP services have failed to materialise.
‘Despite the hard work of GPs, nurses and practice staff, many GP practices are struggling to cope with the rising number of patients coming through their doors because of a lack of necessary funding and widespread staff shortages.
‘The government needs to understand that this landmark survey sounds a clear warning signal from GPs that cannot be ignored, and that the workload, recruitment and funding crisis in general practice must be addressed with far more vigour and commitment.’