A survey of GP patients in England suggests they are less satisfied in the service provided than they were two years ago.
Of the 903,357 adults questioned in the Ipsos Mori survey for NHS England:
- 34% have a "very good" experience of making an appointment compared with 38% in June 2012
- 36% were "very satisfied" with their surgery's opening hours, down from 40% in June 2012
- 86% were successfully able to get appointment to see or speak to someone at their surgery
- 34% would prefer to book their appointments online compared with 29% in June 2012
- 78% would recommend their GP surgery to someone who moved to the local area, which is down from 82% in June 2012
GPs face being named and shamed if they repeatedly fail to spot signs of cancer in their patients, it has been reported.
Doctors will be marked out with a red flag on an NHS website if they are deemed to be missing too many cases or patients have to make repeated visits before being referred for tests, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said tough action must be taken to bring standards at practices with poor cancer referral rates into line with those who have the highest standards.
He told the newspaper: "Cancer diagnosis levels around the country vary significantly and we must do much more to improve both the level of diagnosis and to bring those GP practices with poor referral rates up to the standards of the best."
The Department of Health has dismissed claims GP services are "imploding" as "scaremongering" and claimed the number of family doctors has risen by 1,000 since 2010.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said:
It is scaremongering to say that GP services are 'imploding'.
The number of GPs has gone up by 1,000 since 2010 and we've taken tough decisions to protect the NHS budget so we can strengthen family doctoring, reform out-of-hospital care and improve GP access for 7.5 million people.
GPs agreed to be at the heart of our radical plans for more personalised community care in return for cutting their targets by more than a third to free up more time with patients.
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.