Why Can’t I See My GP?

The Past, Present and Future of General Practice

Author(s) Ellen Welch

Language: English

Genre(s): General, Politics, History

  • February 2024 · 176 pages ·216x135mm

  • · Hardback - 9781915279460
  • · eBook - epub - 9781915279484
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781915279491

About The Book

‘I tried to contact my own GP last week. I counted 19 redials and 20 minutes on hold before I was able to speak to a receptionist… only to be told that all the appointments for the day had gone.  My experience echoes a familiar tale told up and down the country, but just why is it that you can’t see your GP anymore? This book provides some answers to that question…’

UK general practice has reached crisis point. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has placed a strain on an already crumbling primary care service, leaving both patients and NHS staff struggling.

Seventy-five years after the NHS was created, Dr Ellen Welch lifts the curtain on general practice. She looks back on the history of the profession exploring how the job has changed– particularly since the pandemic – then ahead to what the future of general practice might look like.

Why Can’t I See My GP features personal accounts from practicing GPs, including Dr Aman Amir, whose surgery was subject to an arson attack; GP leaders Dr David Wrigley, Dr Lizzie Toberty and Dr Paul Evans, alongside commentator Roy Lilley, and bereaved husband Chris Milligan. Those on the frontline try to answer the question: how did we get here? Is it better overseas? And what can be done to make things better for us all in the future?

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the length of time it took to get a GP appointment, then this book is for you.


‘Dr Welch delves into the stark reality of why seeing your GP has become a struggle. Unveiling the systemic issues within the NHS through the lens of a seasoned GP, it lays bare the concerns many of us have tirelessly voiced. It’s not merely about the dwindling availability of GP appointments – it’s about the unravelling fabric of a health service built for all. This book is essential reading for anyone who values the ethos of a universal healthcare system and the indispensable role of a family doctor. It beckons public awareness and action at a time when it’s most needed.’
-Dr Matt Kneale, Co-chair of Doctors’ Association UK

‘At a time when other national health systems are trying to create the British model of general practice this pithy polemic, deliciously served oven-ready in small, easily digestible portions will equip and empower the reader to question why our government is seeking to dismantle ours. This is essential reading for any one of us who may want to justifiably know why the jewel in the heart of the NHS crown may be lost forever. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. Thankfully Ellen Welch presents us with elegant solutions.’
-Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, Chair of the BMA’s England GP Committee

‘The passion for delivering high-quality medical care shines out from each contribution to this unique book, and is matched only by the perplexity at the disintegration of what has long been the jewel in the NHS’s crown – British general practice. If it is to be restored, some of the solutions will be found within these pages.’
-Dr Phil Whitaker, GP and author of What Is a Doctor


Dr Amir Khan
Dr Ellen Welch
Chapter 1 A brief history of NHS general practice
Ellie Philpotts with Dr Ellen Welch –
A brief history of NHS general practice
Roy Lilley – Gone 16
Dr Eric Rose – The history of out-of-hours GP services
Dr David Wrigley – NHS GPs aren’t private companies
Chapter 2 How the role has changed
Dr Christine Hunter with Dr Ellen Welch –
Thirty years as a Cornish GP
Dr Louise Hyde – The magic of general practice
Dr Ayan Panja – Expert generalism –
the power, the magic and the pitfalls
Chapter 3 GPs and the pandemic
Dr Neena Jha – Being a GP during the pandemic
Dr Aman Amir – Rising levels of abuse towards GPs
Chris Milligan – The personal toll of being a GP
Dr Elizabeth Croton –
GPs are not lazy, we’re working harder than ever
Chapter 4 What does a GP do in today’s Britain?
Dr Lizzie Toberty – On the pressures
Dr Catriona McNicol – On home visits
Dr Ellen Welch – On remote working
Dr Paul Evans – On workload caps
Dr Lizzie Toberty – On pay restoration
Dr Zainab Batool – On the 10-minute consult
Ron Templeton – What do the patients think?
Chapter 5 Does it work better elsewhere?
Dr Neil Barnard with Dr Ellen Welch –
Anywhere is better than the NHS
Dr Sarah Rushworth – From Merseyside to Nova Scotia
Dr Robin Kåss – General practice in Norway
Dr Lois Mugleston –
General practice in New Zealand and the UK
Dr Ellen Welch – The American system – fees at sea
Chapter 6 The future of general practice
Anonymous GP – Are allied healthcare
professionals a solution to the GP crisis?
Dr Ellen Welch – Are part-time GPs the problem?
Over to you – Solutions to the GP crisis in a nutshell
You and your GP
Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK)
List of contributors
Help for GPs
Further reading
About the author

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Ellen Welch

Dr Ellen Welch is a practising GP, mum and past co-chair of the Doctors’ Association UK (2022-23). All royalties for this book will go to DAUK. She is the author of How the NHS Coped with Covid-19 (2022), The NHS: The Story So Far (2021) and The NHS at 70: A Living History (2018). She has written for The Guardian, The Independent, the Times, Metro, GP Online and the BMJ among others.

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