I am hugely grateful to Dr Dan Henderson and the other partners and staff of Salisbury Medical Practice for inviting me to spend time last week shadowing them and experiencing their typical working day.

Primary care is experiencing a unique set of challenges at the moment, with rocketing public demand.

I witnessed huge numbers of telephone consultations being offered alongside face-to-face appointments and staff working flat out in the face of some pretty immoderate demands.

But I also saw enormous patience, dedication and a passion for general practice that was hugely heartening.

Extra funding has been made available to expand capacity at surgeries during the pandemic and to enable doctors to access support from other health professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists.

But, ultimately, we need more GPs.

The government is committed to increasing the numbers of doctors going into General Practice by 6,000 by 2025 and is continually working with the NHS on a variety of initiatives to boost numbers.

More training places have been created, meaning that we have 1400 more GPs in training this year, compared to previous years, which bodes well.

However, sadly, we are still seeing the outplaying of a period during which too many medical students favoured various hospital specialisms over General Practice.

Whereas we are well on track to meet our target of 50,000 extra NHS nurses, recruitment of GPs is still lagging, and the impact of increased workforce numbers to date has been absorbed by burgeoning demand.

All of which should make us value our existing hardworking GPs all the more.

I know from my postbag that being triaged on the phone is not to everyone’s taste, but it is not being done to ‘keep people away’ from the doctor, as some people perceive, but rather to ensure that everyone has access to a doctor far quicker than they could if they all waited for an in-person appointment.

Those who need to be seen are still offered appointments, but the doctors’ aim is clear – that those who simply need advice or reassurance can get it when they need it – as quickly as possible.