London [England], Nov, 28 : According to a recent poll, patients are at risk because general practitioners are struggling to provide a safe service.
The poll of 5,025 British Medical Association members found that 84 percent believe their workload is affecting care quality.
Only one in ten think they can offer a safe service, reports Daily Mail. Doctors claim they are not being given enough funding to meet the needs of the rising and ageing population.
Surgeries are also facing a recruitment crisis, with up to a third of GPs planning to retire or quit in the next five years.
One in eight posts is now empty with many doctors heading abroad and too few being trained. Waiting times for appointments are at their worst on record and patients are routinely told there are no slots for the next three to four weeks.
The 111 helpline was supposed to reduce the burden but that partially backfired when undertrained call handlers sent too many people to A (and) E instead.
Chaand Nagpaul, the chairman of the BMA GPs committee, said: "We cannot continue to have a service that cannot deliver a safe and effective level of care to the public.
This major survey of more than 5,000 GPs in England demonstrates that GP practices across the country are struggling to provide safe, high-quality patient care because of unmanageable workload." Adding, "Many practices are being overwhelmed by rising patient demand, contracting budgets and staff shortages which has left them unable to deliver enough appointments and the specialist care many patients need.
Addressing the crisis in general practice requires a clear strategy that tackles the numerous problems undermining GP services." "We 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 cope with growing demand in this area," he said.
"Better information for patients about how to safely self-care and wider funding increases for general practice are also needed," he concluded.