Family doctors are “unable” to deliver safe care due to time and resource limits, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned.
GPs are seeing up to 70 patients a day and cannot look after patients “in the way that they want”, Dr Clare Gerada said.
General practitioners receive 9 per cent of the NHS budget but see around 90 per cent of the patients, she said.
She added that the number of GPs needed to “urgently increase”.
Speaking ahead of a “summit” on A&E performance held by the Labour party yesterday, Dr Gerada told the Press Association: “I’m sorry that we cannot deliver the sort of care that patients deserve and need.
“We are trying our best and we are working all hours but it is actually becoming unsafe for my profession to be seeing 60 or 70 patients a day.
“We receive 9 per cent of the NHS budget for 90 per cent of the activity.
“People want to be cared for and we should be caring for them, but because of the system difficulties we can’t care for them in the way that they want.
“I think because people turn to us as the trusted profession and find that we’re not there, or they tell us that because I think that we are there, then that’s why we receive the disproportionate backlash, because we are not the anonymous face of the NHS.
“I think it is also linked to trust.
“Patients trust us and we are probably the last of the establishment, so to speak, that is trusted, but we’re not there because there is not enough of us.
“We have the lowest number per head of population of GPs than we have had in our history and we have a predominantly female workforce - which is fine but some women work part-time because they have babies.
“The solution as Mr Hunt (Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt) said, we need to urgently increase the number of GPs and practice nurses.”
She went on to tell medics and health officials at the summit: “Primary care is very sorry that we can’t deliver the care that patients want us to deliver and we are very sorry that we can’t deliver continuity of care.
“(For) an elderly person with chronic complex conditions, we get £85 per year to manage that patient, who on average attends us 27 times in a year.
“In primary care we have seen a doubling workload, an increase in complexity and my profession are now unable to deliver safe, effective care.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We want people and their families to be able to know their doctor, but it’s a challenge for receptionists to cope with huge call volumes and GPs to get through to all the people they need to see.
“We know they need more resources and that is why we have asked Health Education England to get 50% of medical students to become GPs.”