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Prof Martin Marshall said demand was “greatly exceeding supply”. The chairman of the Royal College of GPs called for greater efforts to expand the workforce and to deter overworked medics from switching to the private sector. He said following increasing pressure on NHS care, dentists find it hard to provide the service that they want to – and so go private.
“Now we’ve ended up in a place where there’s a very inadequate safety net service for those who can’t afford to pay. Could general practice go that way? It could do.”
Prof Marshall said more GPs were doing private work and not just in urban areas: “That worries me greatly because the fundamental principle of the NHS around fair access, open access to all irrespective of ability to pay, is such an important principle.”
Family doctors gave most of the Covid jabs while also dealing with record demand – 27.5 million appointments were booked in England in May, up from 23.6 million in May 2019.
Prof Marshall told a Policy Exchange think tank event in London vows of more staff were not kept: “The number of full-time equivalent GPs… is 2.5 percent fewer than it was in 2019, when the Government made a commitment to 6,000 extra GPs” – and five percent fewer than 2015’s commitment to 5,000 more.
He added: “So we’re heading in the opposite direction here and that’s a major problem.”
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