The latest figures suggest little over half of appointments in England are in person now, compared to eight in 10 before the pandemic.
It comes after virtual appointments were heavily encouraged throughout the Covid-19 crisis in an attempt to keep social mixing low.
Rachel Clarke, an Oxford-based palliative care doctor, has argued that the situation is ‘deliberate NHS-bashing from those who want the NHS to fall’.
In a thread on Twitter last week, the high-profile doctor said: ‘So much GP-bashing of late. Yet we have only 0.6 GPs per 1,000 patients in the UK, whereas Europe typically has three times more.
‘I understand the fear and frustrations of patients but we get the NHS we are willing to pay for.’
Dr Clarke added that general practices are only paid an average of £155 yearly per patient they care for, which amounts to less than 50p a day.
She said: ‘It is a tiny amount – and clearly unsustainable. Better funding is desperately needed. The Government is making a calculated choice not to provide it.’
According to the British Medical Association, which has been monitoring data on the GP workforce, the number of patients per practice is 22% higher than it was in 2015.
Earlier in September, the BMA highlighted that surgeries across the country are experiencing ‘significant and growing’ strain – with rising demand, practices struggling to recruit staff, and patients having to wait longer for appointments.
Alongside these long-term trends, GP practices have been at the forefront of the NHS’s response to the pandemic in recent months.
Replying to Dr Clarke, Yorkshire-based GP Dr Amir Khan highlighted how ‘demoralising’ it is to read negative press aimed at him and his colleagues.
He said: ‘Coming home from 12 hour + days, then reading all the awful press about GPs is really demoralising.
‘We have had 10 years of underfunding in primary care, we are 5,000 GPs short and we have rolled out the biggest vaccination program in history. Then we get bashed.’
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