The Royal College of General Practitioners has recently carried out a survey of 1,000 family doctors and practice staff in England which found that 63% of the doctors, nurses and practice managers participating in the poll believed that the quality of care provided to their patients had deteriorated rapidly in past 18 months due to being “overworked”. There are many the reasons for this including high demands on resources as GPs are forced to fit in too many consultations in one day and are overloaded by “high patient demand”.
In a similar survey carried out 18 months previously, only 35% of primary healthcare professionals said that care had deteriorated in the previous two years. The chairman of the Royal College of GPs has described this significant rise as “shocking, but not surprising as the workloads placed on GPs and other healthcare professionals in primary care has continued to increase over the last 18 months”.
The survey findings also highlighted that, due to the crucial role that family doctors play in providing forefront care, these significant decline in standards of care have made doctors “really anxious” about missing things that could seriously affect their patients’ health.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, a spokesman for NHS England said: “We fully recognise the pressures in general practice and the need to support staff in addressing rising demands. In addressing these increasing demands on primary healthcare professionals, which will only further increase as the population continues to grow, the department of health has committed to training 10,000 more primary and community health and care staff including 5000 more GPs by 2020.”
Naomi Holland, an associate in the Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team, comments: “The survey clearly highlights the widespread concern amongst GPs and practice staff that patient care is worsening under unprecedented pressures from all angles. Although there are plans to allow patients access to a GP seven days a week by 2020, it is very important that the current issues facing primary healthcare professionals are addressed before further increasing the demands placed on GPs.
“Family doctors play a crucial role in providing frontline medical advice and care to patients and, if they are so overworked that they fail to appreciate significant health issues presented by their patients, this will inevitably result in delays in diagnosis and treatment. We see first hand the results of such failings which, in a number of cases, can causer long term disability and even death. More worryingly, we see the same errors cropping up, so this survey reflects our experiences.”