This site is intended for health professionals only

Patients believe ‘overuse’ of general practice detrimental to pandemic recovery

by Jess Hacker
28 February 2022

Share this article

More than a third of UK adults agree that more appropriate use of GP appointments is needed to help the NHS safely support staff through the pandemic, research has suggested.

In a survey of more than 3,000 people, 38% said they believed that refraining from overusing GP appointments was a necessary step to ease pressures on staff.

A quarter of respondents also believed that more Covid restrictions were needed to help staff cope.

Conducted by health charity Engage Britain, the survey found that a further 69% of people agreed that more staff are needed to help the NHS safely recover from the pandemic.

However, the majority (64%) of respondents felt that neither they nor their family had received poor care due to problems with the NHS workforce.

400 NHS staff quit a week due to work-life balance

The survey results were published today (28 February) alongside new analysis which suggests as many as 400 staff members across the wider NHS in England leave every week due to problems with their work-life balance.

The analysis of NHS Digital’s workforce data for September 2021 – which was published last month – indicated that 20,834 NHS staff working in hospital and community health services quit for this reason in the year up to September 2021.

This also comes days after the BMA warned general practices are offering more appointments ‘than they can safely accommodate’, claiming that the current way of working is ‘unsafe’.

Julian McCrae, director at Engage Britain, commented that NHS staff have been ‘running on empty’ through the pandemic.

He said: ‘We can’t allow staff to burn out while putting patients at risk of mistakes or spiralling downwards as they wait months for treatment.’

The Government must urgently ‘expand on its promise’ of reform, importantly basing these changes on the views of those working in the system.

Earlier this month, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently warned that the Government has ‘missed’ the opportunity to address staff shortages in rejecting proposals to improve NHS workforce planning.

This comes as the Government lifts Covid restrictions in England, with practices still left unclear on whether free testing will remain in place for staff.