Doctors’ leaders say that the pressures faced by GPs in England and Wales have reached a point where they are failing patients and could be providing unsafe care.
British Medical Association GP leader Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said doctors were finding themselves rushing patients to keep up with targets.
He said this could be potentially dangerous when trying to identify cancer or getting a patient’s medication right.
The admission by Dr Nagpual follows the release of the findings from the BMA’s online survey.
In England, 55% of those surveyed said that they thought the quality of their service had deteriorated in the past 12 months.
92% said that demand for their services had increased in the past year, with 68% saying they found their workload unmanageable.
Dr Nagpaul said: “It is unsustainable and getting to the point where it is not safe. The ageing population means many of our patients have multiple conditions and are on multiple medicines, but we simply don’t have the time to properly consider how they interact. On cancer we are having to make rushed decisions. And we are seeing growing numbers of patients with dementia – and yet just have 10 minutes to see them.”
Ministers have responded to the survey by promising they would invest in the service to address the concerns.
Health minister Alistair Burt told the BBC: “General practice is at the heart of the improvement we want to see in the NHS. We recognise absolutely that it is under pressure, which is why we are delivering record investment. The health secretary will shortly announce further support for GPs, which should assist in meeting the pressures doctors are reporting.”
Dr Nagpaul believes that at least another 10,000 GPs are required to plug the current shortage in England.
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