GP services are crumbling under the "total mismatch" between a sharp rise in the number of patients needing appointments and the NHS' shrinking capacity to provide care, a health expert warned.
The BMA's Dr Chaand Nagpaul explained:
What we are witnessing is a total mismatch between the rapidly rising demands on GP appointments and a shrinking capacity to provide that care.
Waiting times are inevitably getting longer because the increased demand has not been matched with increased capacity.
GPs will rightly prioritise urgent problems, what is being squeezed are patients with routine problems....
It's common that patients wait over a week, some two weeks. The Royal College of GPs have done a survey which shows that waits will increase to two weeks in a large number of practices in the coming year.
A two-week wait for an appointment to see the family doctor may become commonplace, as GP services are "imploding", a health chief warned.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who chairs the British Medical Association's (BMA) general practitioners committee, warned patients would suffer because of rising demand on GP services and "disinvestment".
Instead, patients will have to wait a fortnight as standard before they can see a GP, he said.
Dr Nagpaul also warned of toll the "conveyor belt of care" took on GPs as they try to see as many patients as possible.
Speaking to the BMA's annual representative meeting in Harrogate, Dr Nagpaul said that in the last five years the number of patients seen by family doctors has increased by 40 million each year.
A 95-year-old pensioner who was "de-registered" from her GPs because their services were overstretched said being shut out from her family doctor was a "bit worrying".
Lily Dove, 95, told Good Morning Britain she could remember when "the doctor used to come out and visit with a horse and trap" and said the Watton Medical Practice should have spoken to the services "before they got in this muddle".
Watton Medical Practice manager Mary Osborne said the decision to de-register Mrs Dove was "a matter of patient safety".
"We were informed by the local area team for NHS England that we could not be discriminatory and ask some residents to move and ask others to stay – that would have been unlawful.
"The decision was made on geographical area, where there is an alternative practice to cover a patient’s primary care."
General Practice is "having a very hard time" as GPs are asked to care for more patients with limited resources, the National Secretary of the Family Doctor Association said.
Dr Simon Abrams told Good Morning Britain GPs were expected to do much more but it was "very difficult to meet these challenges without added resources".
Doctors at the British Medical Association (BMA) will debate the growing number of GPs de-registering their patients as they try to cope with dwindling staff numbers and stretched resources.
The BMA has warned of a "critical shortage" in GPs after figures out last week revealed take-up of family doctor training is at its lowest level since 2007.
Figures from Health Education England show that overall there are 451 vacancies across the UK for GP trainees, with Liverpool suffering the biggest number of empty GP places.
GPs are asking the Government to sit down with them to find "alternative ways to fund General Practice" as part of a motion to consider charging for appointments.
Dr Helena McKweown was speaking to Good Morning Britain earlier about the proposals.
Many of the 2.1 million patients who present to A&E with minor illnesses that could be treated by their GPs are young children, new research from the College of Emergency Medicine reveals.
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine said the research shows the need for "de-congesting" of emergency departments, but stressed the fact that the majority of people attending A&E need to be there:
The fact that only 15% of attendees at emergency departments could be safely redirected to a primary care clinician without the need for emergency department assessment is a statistic that must be heeded by those who wish to reconfigure services.
Providing a more appropriate resource for the 2.1 million patients represented by this figure would substantially de-congest emergency departments.
De-congesting emergency departments is key to relieving the unprecedented levels of pressure placed upon them and improving patient care.
Approximately 15% of people who attend A&E could be dealt with by a GP, new research from the College of Emergency Medicine has found.
One in seven people could be treated in the community rather than as an emergency case in hospital.
A single 11.7 minute trip to the GP costs the NHS £45, according to Government data.
The 2013 Units Health and Social Care report from the Personal Social Services Research found:
- It costs £27 for a 7.1 minute telephone consultation with a GP.
- Home visits from a GP lasting 23.4 minutes are £114.
- One prescription from your GP costs £41.35. This includes the cost of the drug too.
- A 15 minute appointment with your nurse in a GP practice costs £13.
GPs will vote on whether to start charging patients for appointments, which they say will take some of the burden off family doctors.
Missed appointments cost the NHS £160 million a year and many doctors feel it's unsustainable to continue offering free care.
Family doctor's have increasingly voiced concerns over strains put on GP services by the growing number of obese and elderly patients.
They will cast their vote at the British Medical Association Local Medical Committees (LMCs) Conference later this afternoon.