Lack of GP Access: Patients at Risk

GP patients are being put at risk by “unsustainable pressures” facing practices and primary care doctors across the country.

This is according to a new report by the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee.

The committee has blamed a shortage of GPs and increasing demands, as well as GPs having to deal with more complex cases caused by an ageing population.

Crisis facing general practice

MPs on the committee have accused the government of not listening to the evidence showing how important it is for patients to have continuity of care.

They have said this lack of continuity quickens a decline in the “uniquely important relationship” between a patient and their GP. All this is happening while numbers of GPs are falling.

Committee MPs have called on government ministers and NHS England to acknowledge that there is a crisis facing general practice and to explain what they are going to do to protect patient safety.

Importance of seeing the same doctor

The committee heard from a Norwegian GP who had studied the effects of a regular GP scheme. Professor Steinar Hunskar said his study showed that outcomes like death, risk of death, emergency hospitalisation and out of hours care were reduced when patients had the same doctor over time.

The study also referred to a separate UK study that found continuity of care reduced the risk of delirium and emergency hospitalisation for dementia patients.

However, the shortage of GPs in the UK has led to a reliance on locum doctors, as well as newly qualified GPs choosing locum work over salaried GP positions. This makes it difficult for patients to see the same doctor.

Health and Social Care Committee MPs have called on the government to reintroduce a ‘personal list’ of patients to GP contracts from 2030.

Seeing a GP ‘like booking an Uber’

Health and Social Care Committee member Rachael Maskell said: “Our inquiry has heard time and again the benefits of continuity of care to a patient with evidence linking it to reduced mortality and emergency admissions. Yet that important relationship between a GP and their patients is in decline.”

She went on to add: “Seeing your GP should not be as random as booking an Uber with a driver you’re unlikely to see again.”

If you have suffered from negligence by a GP, we could help you take legal action to get the justice you’re entitled to. To find out more, just give us a call or start your claim online.

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