An Oxfordshire doctor is among more than 200 GPs who have signed an open letter apologising to patients for how busy they are.

Dr Rachel Ward, of Woodlands Medical Centre in Didcot, is backing a campaign which urges the Government to fulfil its promises to deliver thousands more GPs.

The letter spells out that GPs joined the profession to care for patients and to deliver high quality care to individuals and families - but acknowledges that the profession is now 'in crisis'.

Dr Ward told Radio Oxford: “The sad reality is you come into work, you get your head down, you don’t come up for air for 12 hours.

“You know, it’s very rushed and pressured the whole time.

“We are now on average in England doing 46 appointments per day and the recommended number is 25."

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The letter said: “The truth is - general practice is in crisis. Not because of us, or the staff who work with us. It is because of decades of underfunding and neglect, broken Government promises and political contempt for you - our patients - that the system is fractured.”

The Government made an election promise in 2019 to add 6,000 GPs to the workforce by 2024.

Since June 2017, the number of fully qualified GPs, excluding trainees, has fallen by 1,343, despite this promise.

The ratio of patients to doctors in England has reached over 2,200 patients for each GP, according to a new analysis by the Liberal Democrats.

Over the same period, the number of registered patients has soared by over 3.1 million.

According to the analysis, based on research from the House of Commons, that means the number of patients per GP has risen from 2,007 in June 2017 to 2,217 in March 2022.

The letter highlights that nine in 10 GPs fear they are not always able to deliver safe patient care - and GPs are taking on workload far higher than the level considered safe by the BMA.

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It reiterates a recent warning that one in four GPs know colleagues who have taken their own lives due to work pressures.

The Rebuild General Practice campaign reiterated that face-to-face appointments are available to all patients who need them - but added that the "stark reality is that the system prevents us from being able to provide the level of care our patients deserve, and sometimes prevents us from being able to see every single patient in-person, where the need isn’t critical".

The Government said it knows general practices are under huge pressure and it is working with the NHS to tackle Covid backlogs.