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Independents' Day

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)

  • I think MPs genuinely don't understand and therefore value General Practice. The question is - how much worse will it get before it dawns on them that if we go -apres nous la deluge.

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  • You couldn't pay me enough to stay - already left practice - not even included in figures yet- like hundreds more.
    The real figure is probably double this.
    Still getting nightmares but the relief upon waking and knowing I don't have to go back is wonderful.
    I feel sorry for anyone left - look after yourselves - no one else gives a stuff!

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  • Only 2 days left after today. Another fte gone.

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  • I've just relocated and replacing a retiring full time partner. However, I have changed my sessions from 8 to 6 as it's just simply not worth working those two extra sessions once you take into account tax, child benefit, nursery fees etc. I don't want to do this. But the government need to wake up to the fact the figures just don't add up unless they start to pay us a decent wage

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  • Council of Despair

    let's be honest - nobody gives a ****

    personally, I've given up looking for support from the BMA, GPC, and medical leadership - it's everyman for themselves.

    look after yourself and organise your own exit - no help is coming.

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  • Siraj Shah

    Having really enjoyed working in the NHS, 12 years as a hospital doctor and 32 years as a GP I have decided to quit as soon as possible. I feel general practice in particular has become a very risky business: - fragmentation of the services, overwhelming bureaucracy, micromanagement, over regulation, lack of support, dumping of work from secondary to primary care, ever increasing demand from our patients, fear of litigation, free for all complaints process, demoralized work force, huge increase in practice running costs….I ask myself why on the earth do you want to be a GP!

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  • GPs "bedrock of the NHS"shame we are being undermined by the government ,CQC,press,GMC,BMA,RCGP ,MDOs et al.It feels like general practice is in the stocks while every thug in town is stoning us .At the moment sometimes it feels like someone should put us out of misery to stop the suffering.I pray for the end of this torture,it is an extremely sad situation.Im to old and too ill to emigrate,and not old enough to retire.I am stuck in the stocks.

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  • As others have stated, nothing is going to change for the good in the foreseeable future. Look after yourselves.

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  • Any figures on Phil Peverley's 5,000 extra GPs GOVERNING the rest of us?

    They are not 5,400 now? Or, are they?!

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  • Sorry folks! I'm finally leaving/retiring tomorrow after 42 years in the NHS; Lucky that the Practice is being taken over by a slightly bigger concern but no new doctors so when I go it will be another fte gone. There is always a catch! I've agreed to locum at my Practice for the next 4 weeks so that there can be a seemless transfer of responsibility to the new incomers. There were no takers for my single-handed remote Practice so I feel fortunate that, at least, someone was willing to take a chance. Au revoir my peers/colleagues!

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