Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'General Practice is in crisis now with an utterly exhausted and demoralised workforce and patients increasingly uncertain of what they can expect'

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared that the General Practice was in crisis right now, with a demoralised and exhausted workforce and patients uncertain about their future.

An inquiry has been launched by MPs into general practice’s future, and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that the service was in ‘crisis’.

There have been growing reports of patients showing up at A&E because they can’t get access to a GP and not being seen face-to-face even when they do get an appointment.

The Health and Social Care Committee, which is cross-party in nature, will investigate the obstacles patients face when seeking out doctors and the problems facing GPs.

Mr Hunt, the Tory chair of the committee, said general practice is the ‘beating heart of the NHS’ but patients are ‘increasingly uncertain of what they can expect’.

He stated that doctors were ‘utterly exhausted’ and ‘demoralised’. 

The current crisis facing GPs is a combination of a shortage in staff and a pandemic backlog. There has been an unprecedented level of demand for GPs with 28.5 million appointments being delivered last month in England.

The Government also criticized surgeries for failing to provide enough face-to–face consultations. Recent figures reveal that just 60% of GP appointments were made in September, compared to 81% before the pandemic.

Sajid Javid (Health Secretary) revealed last month plans to name and shame practices that do not see enough patients in-person. 

But the British Medical Association (BMA), the union for doctors, said it was ‘outraged’ by the plans and balloted members on whether they should take industrial action. 

Some four in ten appointments are still not being carried out face-to-face, figures showed. The above graph shows the proportion of appointments that have been face-to-face since September two years ago

Figures showed that four out of ten appointments still are not carried out face to face. Below is a graph showing the number of appointments made face-toface in September 2012, compared to September 2012.

The average number of sessions GPs works in a day have gone down over the last decade while their wage growth has gone up. In 2012 the average GP worked 7.3 sessions a week but this has now fallen to 6.6 a week, the equivalent of just over three days of work a week. In the same period the average GP income went up by more than £6,000. A GP's daily work is divided into sessions. According to the NHS, a full-time GP works 8 sessions a week, formed of two sessions a day, generally starting at 8am and finishing at 6.30pm, though these hours can vary

While the number of sessions doctors work per day has declined over the past decade and their wages have increased, it is now that the average number of sessions they do each day has fallen. The average GP used to work 7.3 hours per week in 2012, but that has dropped to 6.6 sessions per week. This is equivalent to just under three days of work per week. In the same period the average GP income went up by more than £6,000. Sessions are the basis of a GP’s day. A full-time GP typically works eight sessions per week. Sessions are usually two hours each, but can differ.

Hunt stated, “General Practice is currently in Crisis with an exhausted workforce and demoralised patients and increasingly uncertain of their future.” 

‘Yet it remains the beating heart of the NHS and essential to the prevention agenda — so how do we get there? 

“This will be our most significant inquiry of the next year.”

This cross-party committee of eleven MPs will hear experts speak on general practice’s future and the challenges that it will face over the next five year.

You will be able to share with your GP the greatest barriers that patients are facing when trying for an appointment.

A&E patients are waiting up to 13 HOURS for a bed as health bosses warn health service faces toughest winter ever — but NHS England boss says it needs more staff not cash 

A&E patients are having to wait more than 12 hours for a bed because emergency departments are so overwhelmed, medics warned today.

Health leaders say the NHS is facing its toughest winter ever due to crippling staff shortages, pandemic backlogs and unprecedented demand. 

Dr Chris Gibbons, a clinician at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, said it had ‘become very normal’ for patients to wait seven hours for a bed in A&E, and ‘up to 12 or 13 hours on occasion’.  

Shocking stats show more than 7,000 patients waited 12-plus hours to be seen in A&E in October — more than triple the number in the same month pre-Covid. 

Amanda Pritchard from NHS England warned that things could get worse before they improve.

She suggested the health service needed more doctors and nurses — not more cash — to address the deepening crisis, adding that ‘nothing works without staff’.

Dr Gibbons stated that attendances were 20 to 25% higher than in the fall of 2019. This was an already busy time for them.

“That has been combined with bed capacity. We’ve struggled filling gaps from sickness or isolation. Bed closures have resulted because of infections like Covid.

“This has led to huge numbers of people passing through the front door. There is not enough bed capacity for emergency admissions.

“We are admitting 20-25 new patients daily across our trust which we weren’t admitting 2 years ago.

This is in light of increasing reports that patients are dying at the back of ambulances or in waiting rooms in hospitals due to handover delays.

According to the committee, general practice underwent’significant’ changes in the last few years. Patients’ interactions with physicians during the pandemic have ‘changed significantly’.

MPs will investigate how doctors work and the differences in GP services between regions. 

This inquiry is being made as tensions continue to mount between doctors and the Government over patient access to face to face appointments. 

Prior to the pandemic eight out of ten visits were made in GP surgery. Other appointments were conducted over the telephone or by video conference.

In an effort to stop the virus spreading, less than half the appointments were made in person in the initial months.

Face-to-face appointments are not returning to their pre-pandemic level despite Covid restrictions being lifted in July. Only six of 10 September appointments were in-person, according to most recent data.

Some doctors believe that virtual consultations are better for patients because they’re more convenient. However, some reports indicate that vulnerable persons are not getting access to the care they require. 

The coroners warned of the possibility that distant appointments might have caused a number of deaths.

One mother said that her daughter died from cancer because she couldn’t see her GP in person. She claimed that her child would be okay if she could get a face to face appointment.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid subsequently unveiled a £250million package of measures to get patients more in-person consultations with GPs, including a controversial proposal that would effectively ‘name and shame’ underperforming surgeries. 

However, medics denied that the move was fair, demoralizing and unjustifiable. Unions warn it could lead to a tsunami of retirements. 

BMA conducted an indicative ballot among GPs in England asking whether they supported industrial action in four specific areas. Critics called it a’militant’ union. 

This ballot closes on November 14th and may pave the ground for the first doctor-led industrial action since the strike of the junior doctors five years ago.

Further fuelling the ongoing rift, Mr Javid said problems with GP services was pushing patients to needlessly show up at A&E.

He stated earlier in the month to MPs: “[A]An alarming number of people go to the emergency room when they can get care at home. It is not their fault. 

“They have not been able to access the NHS since they were asked. They now desire to be seen, and they are right.

‘But part of the reason I think people are turning up in A&E perhaps when they don’t need it is because they’re not able to get through to their primary care services in the usual way.’

It caused Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, to pen a letter to the Health Secretary on Friday, stating doctors were ‘dismayed and disappointed’ that he suggested a lack of in-person consultations placed ‘additional strains’ on A&E.

He wrote, “I don’t know of any evidence that suggests this is occurring.”