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Millions of patients may be unable to see a GP

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The RCGP has predicted that 34 million patients in England could fail to get an appointment with a practice nurse or their GP because of the slump in funding for general practice.

These figures were based on an analysis by the RCGP from the latest GP Patient Survey, published in December 2013, which revealed that 10 per cent of patients who sought a consultation with a GP or practice nurse in 2012/13 failed to get one.

This was despite the fact that efficiency in general practice services has risen as GPs and practice nurses now see more than 40 million extra patients annually than they did in 2008/09.

In 2005/06, 10.95 per cent of the NHS budget in England was spent on general practice. However, by 2011/12, just 8.5 per cent of the NHS budget in England was spent on general practice -a cumulative loss £9.1billion since 2004/05 in real terms.

The slump in funding, along with the growing and ageing population, of which increasing numbers of patients have multiple conditions, has impacted on the ability of general practice to cope with the huge increase in demand.

RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said: 'GPs and practice nurses can't keep doing more for less and, now that funding for general practice in England has slumped to just 8.5 per cent of the NHS budget, the service we provide is in crisis.

'By continually diverting resources into hospitals, we have fuelled a real and growing crisis in general practice.

'If the government and NHS England really want to give general practice the tools to provide high-quality and comprehensive care in the community they must increase funding for the sector to 11 per cent of the NHS budget by 2017,' she added.

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