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Pressures in general practice threatening patient safety

by Alice Harrold
2 December 2016

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Patient care is under threat from rising workload pressures in general practice, a major BMA survey has revealed.

Over 5,000 GPs across England took part in the survey which found that “unmanageable” workloads in practices are affecting the quality of care.

The results show that 84% of GPs believe that workload pressures are unmanageable, excessive, or are having a direct impact on the quality and safety of the care.

The highest rates of unmanageable workloads were reported in the South East, the West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Many practices are being overwhelmed by rising patient demand, contracting budgets and staff shortages which has left them unable to deliver enough appointments and the specialist care many patients need.

“We cannot continue to have a service that cannot deliver a safe and effective level of care to the public,” he said.

Gary Hughes, practice manager of Waterfield Practice in Bracknell said: “The results give a clear message about the current situation regarding workload. Whilst this is specifically focused on GP workload the situation is the same for all roles in general practice.

“The impact of rising workload is then further exacerbated for practices who are unable to recruit and retain required staffing levels.”

Dr Nagpaul, agreeing with the survey respondents, called for urgent expansion of the workforce in both practices and community-based teams, with more nurses and mental health workers.

He also noted the need for better information for patients about how to safely self-care, and wider funding increases for general.