This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP workforce declines by over 400 in just three months

The number of full-time equivalent GPs dropped by 1.3% in the last three months of 2016, new workforce figures reveal.

Official data from NHS Digital, published today, show a decline of 445 FTE GPs, including registrars, locums and retainers, between 30 September and 31 December, from 34,495 to 34,050.

Headcount fell by 0.9% in the same time period, a decrease of 390, to a total of 41,475.

Excluding registrars, locums and retainers, FTE GP numbers fell by 1.1% (323 FTE GPs), from 28,458 to 28,135.

There was a 0.8% decrease in headcount numbers, of 287, when excluding these staff groups, to 34,549, in the three-month period.

The statistics, which are billed 'experimental', come despite Government efforts to grow the overall GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020.

This has included the ’10-point plan’ to boost recruitment and retention drawn up in January 2015, and comes despite HEE reporting a record number of doctors opting for GP training in 2016/17.

When the overhauled methodology for counting GPs was first reported, in April 2016, it showed a 2% decrease in GP numbers from September 2014 to September 2015.

And last year, the numbers fell by 0.3% (95 GP FTEs) from September 2015 to 2016.

The annual comparison in September should represent the high point for GP recruitment as it includes the largest intake of new GP trainees as well as newly qualified GPs.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'GPs are the absolute bedrock of the health service and we remain committed to an extra 5,000 doctors in general practice by 2020.

'We have made important strides over the last year to improve conditions to attract more GPs - such as paying a large amount of GP indemnity costs, cutting red tape, agreeing a new contract with their union to deliver a 1% pay rise, as well as bringing in new schemes to help GPs work more flexibly towards retirement.

'We currently have the highest number of GPs in training than ever before, and we know that it will take time for this to impact on GP workforce numbers.

'We will also take strong action to make sure the almost 600 practices who have not yet reported their workforce numbers do so.'



Readers' comments (32)

  • NHSE celebrates with a bubbly at the news. In the near future but a couple of billions will be saved by liquidating this malicious Trojan's horse. It's like salesmen in shops giving you incentives to shop online. When everybody goes online and the shops close, they wake up and think of the pennies that were thrown at them by their Employers luring them to self destruction.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    As GP numbers go down
    and the workload and risk for the remaining goes up
    Its time we had footballer salaries
    (dream on)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Coal Face GP at 11.03hrs,
    Just out of interest, do you know how the collection of undated resignation letters form Northern Irish GPs is going?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The number of GP trainees is being overestimated.

    These data should only include GP trainees in GP placements. In some areas with lead employers it looks rather like all GP trainees, including those in hospital posts, have been counted.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Regardless of these figures, practising GP principles are having major difficulty in recruiting locums, let alone partners. I think this says it all

    If the total number of whole time equivalents is genuinely going down this is only going to make things even worse for existing practices. It will become like the domino effect. We will see huge numbers of GPs retiring, moving to other careers, not choosing general practice in the first place or emigrating.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Also there are more than 3,800 individual GPs who are counted as more than one full time equivalent. You work long enough....they are allowed to count you as two full time equivalent GPs.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    Agent Hunt and those in Ministry of Truth are merely zombies in Walking Dead when they insisted on the target of 5000 GPs by 2020.
    May be 5000 left by 2020 is the truth?

    There is Chinese saying well used in literature,' Dying ten thousand times is not enough for the desolation one has caused.' 萬死不足以蔽其孤
    This is for you , Agent Hunt and Lord Vader

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think I'll go back to Turkmenistan . It probably has better prospects . ( loads of natural gas and lots of epic statues of our onetime president.) As soon as Jeremy gets a statue I'm off.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Last man standing...this won't be reported at all.
    It's a good day to bury bad news what with all this brexit lark going on...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • AlanAlmond

    No doubt the net result of these figures will be vigorous efforts by the government to demonstrate GP numbers have 'never been so high' and 'recruitment into General Practice is booming'. Elements of the media will suck up this government propaganda and we'll be all reading stories come Sunday about something completely unrelated ..'cause no one gives a crap, and even those that do will be so confused by all the information/miss -information they won't know what to think. Government spin machine effective. Bye bye NHS full steam ahead.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say