General practice props up economy

Source: Practice Index

General practice has been the biggest growth area in the struggling UK economy, according to new data.

A 15% increase in appointments in May was highlighted in the latest economic analysis from the Office for National Statistics. The big increase in primary care activity led to a 2.5% increase in “human health activities,” making the services sector the fastest growing sector of the economy, the ONS said. The figures, in part, reflect a bounce back from a steep reduction in the health activities area in April. Overall the economy grew by 0.4% in May having fallen in April, the ONS reported.

Dr Farah Jameel, chair of the British Medical Association’s English GP committee, said: “These figures are yet another example of how hard GPs and their teams are working, but also why we desperately need more resource to close the workforce gap in primary care.It’s clear that GP services are good value for money – GPs are not paid extra for doing more work, and yet, the number of standard GP appointments booked has substantially increased, with 24 million appointments in April 2022 jumping to a staggering 27.6 million in May.”

She added: “We cannot ignore the fact that this is not a sustainable way of working, and that GPs desperately need more support if they’re going to be able to carry on providing this level of care. We don’t have enough of them, and each time a GP takes on more work, they open themselves up to more stress, burn out, and exhaustion – potentially having to reduce their hours or leave the profession altogether. This creates a viscous cycle of even fewer GPs, and ultimately threatens safe patient care. Our new Health Secretary has the opportunity to put right the wrongs done to general practice, and the wider NHS, by giving it the appropriate funding and resources it so desperately needs to close the growing workforce gap and safely meet patient demand.”

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