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Patient Safety Under Threat From Pressures in General Practice

According to a major new British Medical Association (BMA) survey, the quality and safety of patient care in general practice in England is under threat from rising workload pressures.

Some key findings from the BMA survey, which drew responds from 5,025 GPs across England, include:

  • 84% of GPs i.e. 8 out of 10 GPs believe that the workload pressures are either excessive or unmanageable and are having a direct effect on the quality and safety of the care they provide to patients.
  • Only 10% of GPs define their workload as manageable and allowing for good and safe quality of care to the patients.
  • The West Midlands, the South East, Humberside and Yorkshire had the highest rates of GPs reporting unmanageable levels of workload.
  • GPs defined a wide range of options to help tackle these problems, such as greater provision of mental health workers in the community, increased provision of enhanced community nurses to manage defenceless housebound patients and more help to enable patients to safely self-care.

Replying to the BMA survey, the chair of BMA GP committee Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said that the latest major survey of more than 5,000 GPs in England shows that GP practices across the England are struggling to deliver high-quality, safe patient care due to unmanageable workload. Several practices are being overwhelmed by rising patient demand, staff shortages and contracting budgets, which has left them unable to provide sufficient appointments and the specialist care to many patients need.

He further added that a clear strategy is required for addressing the crisis in general practice, which tackles the several problems undermining local GP services. BMA need an urgent expansion of the workforce in both practices and community-based teams, with GPs calling for an increased number of nurses to look after housebound patients and mental health workers to manage the growing demand in this area.

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