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Patient access will suffer unless GP workforce crisis is reversed, says RCGP

The proportion of GPs in the NHS will fall to less than 16% by 2022, unless the ‘dramatic diversion’ of doctor posts from general practice is arrested, claims the RCGP.

In a new analysis of workforce figures from the college, it claims that in 2012, GPs accounted for 23.2% of the doctor workforce - while consultants made up 27.9% - but the RCGP estmates this will fall by 2022 if current trends continue, with GPs making up 15.5% of the doctor workforce, while consultants will make up 24.7%.

The analysis found that between 2002-2012 the annual uplift in the number of full-time equivalent GPs was 1.5%. However, the annual uplift in hospital consultants was 4.4%.

By 2022, the RCGP predicts that, unless current trends change, there will be 37,000 GPs compared to 59,000 hospital doctors – meaning there will be 22,000 more hospital consultants than family doctors.

Pulse revealed last year that practices were finding it increasingly hard to recruit new GPs, with vacancy rates quadrupling over two years and as many as one position in twelve unfilled.

RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said their analysis shows a looming crisis in patient access to GPs unless current trends are reversed.

She said: ‘Most people want to be looked after in their local community and they want to be able to see their GP quickly. The dramatic diversion of doctor posts away from general practice into hospitals works against this fundamentally important  principle.’

She added: ‘Ministers say repeatedly that we need to alleviate pressure on hospitals by delivering more care in the community, yet the numbers of posts being created for consultants and GPs is completely at odds with this.

‘If waiting times get longer, it will be more difficult for GPs to ensure that problems are caught early, and the pressure on A&E will intensify. This is bad news for patients and bad news for the whole of the NHS.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • admitting there is a problem with the CSA which fails a significant number of imgs vital to help solve this would be a start.

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  • I agree with @11.42 AM
    Yes 33000 GPs are without MRCGP and practicing safely , al least the majority. Only small percentage of GPs passed the CSA after Sep 2010.
    Even if you change the method to 8borderline pass marking , you can recruit better quality GPs than those who are not having MRCGP or got through just videos
    This is the right time to think about rather than just blaming that more consultants are created by the system. Those doctors actually loved their speciality , did the hard work and became consultants

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  • I am sitting in my chair trying desperately how to try to figure out a way to demonstrate the simple mathematics of this situation to the government. To my mind, increased hours + increased patient population = more doctors ???? Not rocket science guys and girls. Been saying this until I'm blue in the face for years but as ever fallen upon the deaf ears of a government intent only on receiving an overall majority in the next general election than on good quality healthcare. A no win situation for GP's.

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  • In my locality, after 1.4.13 8 EIGHT unfilled GP principal vacancies not there on 31.3.13 - at least one with 0 NO responses to advertisment.
    If the same elsewhere (likely) I suspect RCGP understating current problem let alone future implications.
    Sorry, staying Anon for obvious reasons.

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  • 'RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said their analysis shows a looming crisis in patient access to GPs unless current trends are reversed.'
    It isn't looming, it's here. 50 patient contacts a day. How am I supposed to offer RCGP NICE QoF QiPP friendly consultations, be empathetic and then reflect for appraisal / revalidation in 10m and see all the patients in a timely manner. With 7/7 working around the corner it's only going to get worse. The college and the BMA need to tell the public they're getting short changes, not because they cannot have an appointment on Sunday at 1300 but because the GP cannot give their best because the government will not provide the resources for enough doctors. Oh and by the way there's no chance I'd be a GP if I had my time again and viewed this job as a career. It was a vocation with suitable professional reward (money and satisfaction) now its a miserly and a misery.

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