GP surgeries across South Warwickshire are at breaking point, claim doctors.
A total of 87 general practitioners from across the county have spoken out and made a desperate plea for increased government support.
In an open letter – also signed by 48 nurses and 61 practice staff – they say surgeries are under unsustainable pressure from a rising workload and reduced funding.
They said: “We are unable to cope with the current pressure on the health service, and understand entirely why our patients are becoming frustrated at the lack of appointments and delays getting the treatment they need.
“Demand is continuing to rise but the Government has failed to provide the support that local GP practices need to offer their patients the time and care they require.”
The group say the number of GP consultations has risen dramatically in the past six years and they are spending more time with each patient because of an increase in complex and chronic illnesses.
They believe this has had a knock-on effect on GP recruitment with newly-qualified doctors no longer choosing general practice as a career.
But despite these changes, the proportion of NHS funding spent on general practice has fallen by nearly three per cent in the same six years.
They added: “We are reaching an incredibly important moment for general practice. We can either face up to the realities facing GPs and make plans now to meet the growing challenges – or we can bury our heads in the sand and watch this key part of the NHS slide into permanent decline.”
A spokesperson for NHS England said changes to the way GPs were paid would free up their time to provide care by removing excessive performance targets.
They added changes were being made to modernise surgeries including greater use of telephone, email and video consultations, as well as more flexible appointment times.
A copy of the letter was sent to Warwickshire’s six MPs.
Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby, said: “The Government protected NHS funding when it came to power despite the massive financial challenges facing the country.
“There are now 1000 more GPs than in 2010 and GPs now undertake 40 million appointments each year.
“In addition the Department of Health is developing a package of changes that will place general practice at the heart of the provision of health services within the community.
“This is reflected in changes to the 2014/2015 General Medical Services contract which will free up more time for GPs to spend with their patients and also why the Government is also investing £50m into a challenge fund to support out of hours GP access.”