This morning the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned that General Practitioners (GP) surgeries in England will turn away patients more than 50 million times next year as practices become increasingly overstretched.

RCGP said that a lack of investment has brought the service to “its knees” as it struggles to meet patient demand. Research of a recent patient survey predicted that patients may be turned away 51.3 million times next year. Leading doctors have said the figures were a “shocking indictment” of the system and warned the situation was only likely to get worse unless investment was increased.

The RCGP said if current trends continue, then in 2015:

  • Patients in West Yorkshire will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 2.3 million occasions (up from 2.2m in 2013/14)
  • Patients in London will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 10.4 million occasions (increase from 9.3m in 2014)
  • Patients in Birmingham and the Black Country will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 3.2 million occasions (up from 2.9m)
  • Patients in Greater Manchester, will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 3.1 million occasions (up from 2.8m)
  • Patients in Merseyside will be unable to see or speak to a GP or nurse on 1.5 million occasions (up from 1.3m in 2014)

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCPG honorary treasurer, said; “No GP wants to turn away a single patient – but surgeries are being faced with no choice because they don’t have the resources to cope with the increasing number of older people who need complex care, whilst also meeting the needs of families and people of working age. The profession has been brought to its knees both by a chronic slump in investment and the fact that there are now simply not enough family doctors to go around. The Government must urgently move to increase investment in general practice to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017 – and recruit 8,000 family doctors.”

In a related story this morning seven million people are now being offered GP appointments via Skype and email as well as out-of-hours in an attempt to combat overstretching of services. The Department of Health said the number of GPs had also increased by 1,000 since 2010.

A spokesman said: “We know GPs are working under pressure which is why we have cut GPs’ targets to free up time with patients and are increasing trainees so that GP numbers continue to grow faster than the population.”

Article Source: ITV 28/7/14