GPs fear workload risks patient safety

MORE than 80 per cent of GPs worry about missing a serious condition in a patient because of their heavy workload, a new survey has revealed.

The vast majority of GP respondents – 91 per cent – also believe general practice does not have sufficient resources to deliver high quality patient care.

The views emerged in a poll by ComRes commissioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

When asked to what extent they were concerned about missing a serious illness because of workload, 29 per cent of GPs said they worried a great deal, and more than half (55 per cent) worried a fair amount.

Nearly all of the 251 GPs surveyed (96 per cent) said they found their job stressful with the same amount saying that morale has decreased in the past five years.

Most predicted big changes to come with 70 per cent believing that the provision of general practice as we know it today will not exist in 10 years’ time.

The RCGP raised concerns about GP funding, highlighting figures showing 90 per cent of NHS patient contacts take place within general practice, yet it only receives 8.39 per cent of the NHS budget.

The College has launched a campaign with the National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP) called Put patients first: Back general practice calling on all four health departments of the UK to raise GP funding to 11 per cent of the NHS budget by 2017.

RCGP spokeswoman Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “The fact that more than 80 per cent of GPs worry that they will miss something serious in a patient, due to their high workloads, is a damning indictment of the impact of the deepening funding crisis in general practice.

“Our poll shows that family doctors are severely demoralised and this can only be bad news for patients.”

The Department of Health said the government has committed to increase the number of GP trainees from 40 per cent of all medical graduates to 50 per cent by 2020.

A spokesman told Sky News: “We've taken tough decisions to protect the NHS budget, which is allowing us to restore proper family doctoring, reform out of hospital care, and improve GP access for 7.5 million people across the country.

"But we know GPs are under pressure, so we're cutting GP targets by more than a third to free up more time with patients and increasing trainees so that GP numbers continue to grow faster than the population."

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