GP APPOINTMENTS in England are rising week by week, putting practices under increasing pressure, according to the BMA.
Weekly figures from NHS Digital show an increase in both remote and face-to-face GP appointments in the approach to autumn, raising concerns as to how the service will cope.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: "As these figures clearly show, GP practices are coming under significant pressure with rapidly rising demand, concerns related to Covid-19 adding to the expected rise in activity as we move into autumn, and with schools returning.
"Of course, this year is like no other as we do all that we can to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Huge numbers of patients have been contacting practices worried that they cannot get tested for possible Covid-19. In addition, practices have also faced the need to respond to the significant impact of the huge backlog of care for those whose procedures have been postponed.
"Practice workload will only increase as we head into the winter months with a second wave on the horizon."
A poll by GPonline also highlights growing pressure on practices, with 81 per cent of GPs saying workloads are above normal levels and more than one in three describing their current workload as "very high".
Among the key factors cited as driving heavy practice workload are rising demand for consultations, the significant workload involved in delivering large numbers of patient contacts remotely, work dumped from hospitals onto primary care, a surge in clinical administrative work and the knock-on impact of the NHS backlog created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Vautrey said: "NHSEI and the Government must recognise that the pressure is continuing to mount on practices across the country. As such, they must be supported in these exceptionally challenging circumstances to ensure that we can keep up with the growing needs of our patients."