The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has written to senior MPs on both sides of the House of Commons calling for urgent action to resolve the ongoing funding and staffing crisis in general practice.
In their letter to ministers and shadow ministers, DAUK’s GP Leads Dr Lizzie Toberty and Dr Steve Taylor said that patient safety was being put at risk by underfunding and staff shortages.
The letter was sent to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, and Shadow Primary Care Minister Preet Gill.
It called for an increase in core funding for primary care, significant investment in estates and IT, and support for GPs to make “informed local decisions for their communities”.
Their letter said: “The rapid increase in non-doctor staff, the push towards working at scale, and persistent funding cuts have contributed to a rise in missed diagnoses.
“We have prioritised broad access and seeing any available clinician over the well-documented benefits of continuity of care with a GP.
“Continuity of care is known to reduce mortality, reduce the likelihood of hospital admissions, and improve patient satisfaction. If these benefits were replicated by a medication, it would be prescribed universally.
“Yet, the current conditions in primary care are the antithesis of this ideal.”
The letter highlights the fall in funding for primary care from 12% to 8% of the NHS budget.
It said: “The per-patient funding for primary care stands at £164 annually, regardless of visit frequency.
“This amount is comparatively lower than many will spend on phone contracts, festival tickets or pet insurance. Adjusted for inflation, the funding should be closer to £197 per patient.
“The consistent devaluation and defunding of general practice are now manifesting in detrimental outcomes for patients.”
Dr Toberty and Dr Taylor said DAUK stands ready for discussions with the Conservative Government and the Labour Opposition to develop plans “which enable continuity of care at their core”.
Commenting on the letter, Dr Toberty said: “We have a shortage of GPs in the UK and need sustained investment to address that.
“And we need a whole system approach based on continuity of care with a GP – and we need it now to ensure the best levels of service for patients.”