Doctors leaders have stepped up their campaign for more cash for general practice with the warning that millions of patients in England will be unable to book a slot with their GP this year because of dwindling funds.

According to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), a whopping 34 million patients seeking treatment will fail to get a GP appointment as the drag of growing service demand is magnified by a decade-long slump in funding.

And the number of patients unable to secure an appointment comes despite the fact that doctors are already seeing 40 million more patients every year than back in 2008/09, it says.

The College is warning that the number failing to see their GP will continue to rise, because of ongoing cash cuts within the field.

It claims that, in 2005/06, 10.95% of the NHS budget in England was spent on general practice, but, by 2011/12, this had slipped to just 8.5%, with a cumulative loss £9.1 billion since 2004/05 in real terms.

Both the RCGP and the National Association for Patient Participation are currently running the campaign Put patients first: Back general practice, which is piling pressure on the government and NHS England to ensure that 11% of the NHS budget is invested in general practice by 2017.

“All three political parties say they want to see more patients being treated in the community, where care can be provided to patients more economically, in their own surroundings, and yet resources are increasingly being diverted away from communities and into hospitals," said RCGP chair Maureen Baker. 

“By continually diverting resources into hospitals, we have fuelled a real and growing crisis in general practice," she argues.