The research shows that the majority of GP appointments and hospital admissions see patients who have several conditions, with eight out of ten prescriptions being given to people living with multimorbidity.
Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Helen Stokes-Lampard, has said that seeing these patients ‘simply isn’t possible in 10 minutes’ and offering longer appointments means offering fewer to patients already waiting ‘too long’ to secure time with GPs.
Researchers said that this trend will worsen as health conditions continue to rise – high blood pressure was the most common complaint (18.2%), followed by depression and anxiety (10.3%) and chronic pain (10.1%).
High blood pressure affects approximately 12.5 million people in the UK and can lead to health complications such as heart attacks and strokes.
Patients with multimorbidity accounted for more than half of GP consultations (52.9%) and hospital admissions (56.1%).
‘Today's research also highlights the rising number of cases of physical and mental comorbidity, particularly in young people, and the urgent need for enhanced mental health services, including more mental health therapists and more options for treatment, in the community - and for GPs and our teams to have better access to them,’ continued Ms Stokes-Lampard.
NHS England’s GP Forward View promised an extra £2.4 billion for general practice, 5000 more GPs and for each practice to have access to 3000 new mental health therapists.
According to Mind, a mental health charity, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental health problems, and depression affects 3.3 people in every 100.
The study found 27.2% of a random sample of 403,985 respondents had multimordibity, which is more than a quarter of patients visiting their GPs.
Strain on GP consultations is increasing – last week it was revealed that public satisfaction with the service has fallen to its lowest level since records began.
‘The drop in public satisfaction with the NHS is significant, especially as it comes amid widespread political concern about the future of the service,’ said Ruth Robertson, fellow at the King's Fund whose research showed that satisfaction dropped by 7 points last year, to 65%.
‘This reflects the huge pressure on general practices, which are struggling to meet growing demand and recruit enough GPs. Given this context, it’s not surprising that public satisfaction with general practice has been in steady decline since 2010.’