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Access to general practice in England inquiry


Accessing general practice is the first step for most patients in diagnosing and treating health problems. Good access to general practice reduces pressure on other parts of the NHS, particularly hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments. This helps the health system to make the best use of its resources. Research has estimated that in 2012–13, 5.8 million patients attended A&E or walk-in centres because they were unable to get an appointment or a convenient appointment in general practice. The National Audit Office estimates that a typical consultation in general practice costs £21, whereas hospitals are paid £124 for a visit to A&E.

Improving access to general practice is a priority for the government. It has committed to recruiting 5,000 extra doctors working in general practice, and to ensuring that people have access to general practice from 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week, by 2020.

This inquiry looks at the demand for general practice, patient expectations and experience of accessing general practice, and whether staffing and capacity in general practice can meet those demands and expectations.