The Royal College of General Practitioners has requested an injection of emergency funds to help tackle the "double whammy of spiralling workloads and dwindling resources" facing GPs.

The call comes after a poll of GPs found the profession to be at "breaking point", with more than 80% of family doctors claiming they do not have the resources to provide high quality care, and 47% noting that they had already cut back on services.

Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents have been forced to reduce practice staff numbers, while more than half cited difficulty in recruiting and retaining GPs.

Looking forward, more than four in five GPs are concerned it will become increasingly difficult to deliver continuity of care to vulnerable elderly people, which Jeremy Hunt highlighted as a priority when he first took office*.

Also, despite the efforts of government to improve on access to primary care, the poll found that more than 70% of GPs expect patients will have to wait longer for an appointment within the next two years.

"Big cracks are now starting to appear in the care and services that we can deliver for our patients," said RCGP chair Clare Gerada. "The profession is now at breaking point and we do not have the capacity to take on any more work, without the extra funding and resources to back it up".

The RCGP has long argued that while GPs conduct 90% of the NHS contacts each year, this arm of the health service receives just 9% of NHS funding, a figure which has been steadily falling.

Now, it is calling for an emergency package of additional investment for general practice "to protect GP services and protect our patients from even deeper cuts to their care and longer waiting times".

"Last week the English Government announced an additional £500 million for A&E departments. What we need is our fair share of funding so that GPs can do more for our patients in their communities," Gerada said.

*The government is currently drawing up a strategy for the care of vulnerable older people, which is due out in October.