This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

Gold, incentives and meh

Only 100 extra GPs added to workforce in six months

Only 100 extra GPs were added to the workforce in the last six months of 2015/16 in England, official figures have revealed, striking a blow to the Government’s aim of adding 5,000 extra GPs by 2020.

The new figures from NHS Digital reveal that the number of GPs excluding registrars, retainers and locums actually went down by eight from 30 September 2015 to 31 March 2016.

The report – which NHS Digital stresses is experimental – also reveals that the number of practices in England had decreased by 61 in those six months, while the proportion of the workforce that is female is increasing, with women now making up 52.1%.

This calls into further doubt the Government’s claim in 2014 that it will increase the numbers of GPs in the workforce by 5,000 by 2020.

GP leaders said that the figures were ‘disappointing’.

Pulse revealed earlier this year that the Government was falling short in its aims, and would need to increase the number of trainees entering the profession and decrease the speed of retirements to get anywhere the target.

The latest figures suggest that plans brought in by NHS England and Health Education England are not having the required impact.

The figures reveal:

  • There was an increase of 108 (0.3%) total headcount GPs from 30 September 2015 to 31 March 2016 – now standing at 41,985;
  • This represents 34,914 full-time equivalent GPs – an increase of 323 (0.9%) in that time period;
  • Excluding trainees, retainers and locums, there had been a decrease of eight GPs from September 2015 to March 2016 – although it did represent an increase of 65 FTEs (0.2%);
  • Around 52.1% of the GP workforce is now female – an increase from 51.9% in September 2015;
  • There were 7,613 practices in England in March 2016 – a decrease of 61 from September 2015.

These latest figures are the first to take into account NHS England and Health Education England’s attempts to increase the numbers of GPs practising through their 10-point plan.

They include measures to attract medical graduates into general practice, offer incentives to work in underdoctored areas and making it easier for GPs to re-enter general practice.

The measures seem to have arrested the slide in GP numbers, but they are still far below the required rate.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ’It’s disappointing that the numbers have only increased marginally, but it’s not surprising based on the experience many junior doctors and medical students would have had of general practice over the years.

’So it will take a while to turn the ship around and to actually genuinely increase numbers, but that’s all predicated on the Forward View actually being delivered and seeing actual change in practices.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ’We now have 323 extra full time equivalent GPs in our general practice workforce— and it’s good to see that the numbers are going in the right direction.

‘We know there is more work to be done- that’s why we have boosted GP funding by £2.4billion through the GP Forward View, and we will continue our drive to recruit and retain more GPs.’


Readers' comments (16)

  • You are welcome Jo Smit,

    I agree with you.

    Someone should poke behind the numbers and look at the actual data.

    How about comparing the number of FTE GPs (excluding registrars, retainers and locums) in 2005, with the same group in 2016. Then look at the number of registered patients in that same decade.

    At least it will stop us wondering why we are so much busier.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We are loosing more than 100 gps a month to other countries. I have lost 8 friends to other countries in just 1yr. More pay less work abroad.. Low mdu costs.. I am almost thinking to leave.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Usual NHS statistics: Bollocks.
    Most of our targets, performance stAtistics, referral rates and prescribing data is of exactly the same quality. Bollocks!!!!
    The numbers our CEOs and leaders believe in up and down the country nonetheless.
    Good luck to us and more importantly our patients.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I wonder what the numbers will look like after 31st March when they take into consideration all those GPs over 55 who retired due the the life time allowance being reduced from £1.25 million to £1 million on 6th April?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    any updated version of this link?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vincenzo Pascale

    Millions of UK people (that only speak English) are assisted every day in Italy, France,Spain, Portugal Germany. And they usually have not problems to be assisted by doctors that perhaps have A2 or B1 in English language. And it seems that English people assisted in those Countries are not killed by European Medicine (and doctors of course). Until the UK Government and GMC don't stop to think that the UK is the belly of the world, it will be difficult that a lot of European Doctors, willing to move in the UK, can go to the UK. I remember that I, (that got classic studies in the secondary school) have an Italian A1 - advanced. The same that is requested in the UK with the IELTS. Of course very few people in the UK havea A1 (and in Italy and in Spain etc).. I mean that UK has to change mentality. Moreover, working in EIRE I've discovered that, there, Doctors use a online link for antibiotics. So the doctor has not choice. Or, if he has, and do a different prescription he has to cop with the "why". When the next step for a computer that knowing all the rules, the pathologies, the drugs of the world, goes to replace doctors?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say