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Family doctors are looking after 140 more patients than five years ago

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The latest statistics lay bare the burden on the GP service, with many doctors “demoralised”.

A recent survey found that a third of GPs in England plan to leave direct patient care within the next five years, including three fifths of those over 50.

In October there were 2,260 patients in England for every qualified general practitioner – up from 2,120 half a decade earlier.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, warned: “This situation is unsustainable, and it is unsafe for patients and staff.

“GPs and our teams are working under intense workload and workforce pressures, trying to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care for patients.”

More than a quarter of GP practices have either merged or closed in the past decade.

A report showed that the number of people seeing the same GP for each appointment is at a record low.

Labour is promising to “bring back the family doctor” so people can see the same GP at each appointment and have a face-to-face session if they want one.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “We’ve had this model of general practice since the NHS was founded where GPs effectively operate as small businesses, through GP partnerships.”

He told the Sunday Express his “instinct is to build a new model, run it along GP partnerships as they retire and phase it out over time”.

A Government spokeswoman said: “There are 80,000 more general practice appointments available every working day compared to last year because there are almost 2,300 more full-time equivalent doctors to see patients.

“We are growing the GP workforce, have a record number of doctors in training and have recruited more than 21,000 additional staff into general practice.”

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