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.
Ed Miliband has pledged that a future Labour government would give GP surgeries an extra £100m funding and make sure all patients can see a doctor within 48 hours.
Speaking in Manchester, Mr Miliband said it was a "scandal" that only 40% of NHS patients are seeing a GP within 48 hours, while one in four cannot get an appointment the same week they ask for one.
The Labour leader said the extra money would come from getting rid of the market-based NHS framework set up by the current government, along with cutting spending on consultants and senior managers.
Over seven million patients are expected to benefit after 1100 GP practices announced they were to extend their hours.Read the full story ›
The amount of work GPs have to do is so great is its "threatening" the future of family medicine, the BMA has warned.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA's GP committee, said:
It is clear general practice is facing a workload disaster that is threatening its long-term future.
We are seeing morale dip to a level that I cannot remember in my 25 years as a GP.
Six out of 10 GPs are considering early retirement and more than a third are actively planning to end their career early.
This could lead to a serious workforce crisis in general practice where we do not have enough GPs to treat patients.
The root cause of this crisis is that GP practices are facing an unprecedented combination of rising patient demand, especially from an ageing population, and declining resources.
Over half of GPs are considering stepping down and retiring before their mid-60s because of their heavy workload, the doctor's union has warned.
The British Medical Association (BMA) quizzed 420 GPs, 54% of whom said they believed their current workload was "unsustainable".
And 55% said their morale was "low" or "very low".
The union said that general practice is facing a "workload disaster".