Becks Fisher, GP and Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation said:
‘Today’s figures show most people remain satisfied with general practice, with over 80% of patients surveyed reporting a good overall experience of their local surgery. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of general practice teams. However, the continued downward trend of overall satisfaction rates suggests that growing demand, a shortfall of GPs and financial constraints are increasingly taking a toll on ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the NHS.
'In particular, more people report waiting too long for appointments, or problems contacting their practice. Workforce problems continue to plague general practice - the NHS in England has a shortfall of at least 2,500 full-time GPs, and the numbers of GPs are lower in areas of high deprivation where there is greatest health need.
'Primary Care Networks have been introduced across England both as a response to the problems facing general practice and to deliver ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan for better community care. Having additional staff, such as physiotherapists, pharmacists and paramedics will be welcome, but there remains a pressing need for more GPs. The NHS can’t deliver a comprehensive workforce plan until the government decides how much funding to make available to recruit and train new staff. The current paralysis in Westminster is continuing to delay the long-awaited spending review, and the impact of those delays is being felt by both patients and general practice.’
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Without urgent policy action, GP shortages will get worse.
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