A survey carried out by the British Medical Association has revealed the rather unsurprising fact that GPs feel the need to be freed from increased bureaucracy, box ticking and administration so they can spend more time meeting the needs of their patients.

In the largest survey of GP opinion since changes to the GP contract took effect in April 2013, the findings show that:

  • 97% said that bureaucracy and box ticking had increased in the past year while 94% said their workload has increased;
  • 82% felt that some of the new targets were actually reducing the number of appointments available to the majority of patients;
  • 89% said that more targets will not improve patient care;
  • 90% said their practice’s resources are likely to fall in the next year;
  • 45% GPs said they are less engaged with the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) because of increased workload; and
  • 86% of GPs reported a reduction in their morale in the past year.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the BMA’s GP committee said:

“The results of this survey demonstrate that an increase in bureaucracy, box ticking and administration has damaged GP services and patient care, mirroring a government funded report into GP’s working lives that made similar findings3.

“GP practices are already struggling with declining funding and rising patient demand, especially from an ageing population. Recent changes to the GP contract have created additional and unnecessary workload that is diverting valuable time away from treating patients. Worryingly 8 in 10 GPs report a reduction in morale, and nearly half of GPs are less engaged with their Clinical Commissioning Groups due to workload.

“Recently introduced targets included encouraging GPs to carry out a large number of lengthy and clinically dubious questionnaires that ask how many hours patients spend on gardening, cooking and DIY. They are also offering appointments to all healthy 35-40 year olds simply to check their blood pressure. GPs are very worried that the time taken for this programme and questionnaires is resulting in fewer appointments for other patients who are in need of care.

“Despite this difficult environment, GPs are working harder than ever before. There is a wealth of experience and talent in general practice that could be harnessed positively for patient care.

“The BMA wants to work with the government to deliver real benefits to patients and remove the administrative burden that is putting pressure on already overstretched GP services. We particularly need to see how we can free up more time to deliver the personalised care that patients deserve and meet the challenges from an increasing number of older patients who need coordinated and effective care.”