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GPs go forth

Number of full-time qualified GPs falls by 277 in a year

The number of fully qualified full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs in England has fallen by 277 over the past year, according to the latest data.

The latest NHS Digital data on general practice workforce showed there were 28,319 FTE GPs excluding registrars in December 2019.

This was a reduction by 1% since December 2018, when the number stood at 28,596.

The new dataset also revealed that the number of FTE GP partners decreased to 18,079 – down 5.1% from last year.

When counting GPs in training, and disregarding hours worked, the workforce headcount did grow over the past year, by 3.3% from 44,396 to 45,869.

Health secretary Matt Hancock welcomed the latter statistic in a statement which also showed an overall headcount growth in the number of nurses working across the NHS.

He said: 'I'm delighted that figures out today show that alongside a reduction in vacancies and an increase in the number of GPs, we’ve got record numbers of nurses working in our NHS – up by over 8,000 on the same time last year.

'This Government is determined to make good on its commitments and deliver on the people's priorities - and today's figures show that we are doing just that.'

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team workforce lead, said: 'Today’s figures show a worrying continuation of the trend we’ve been seeing in recent years – with falling numbers of full-time GPs meaning there are fewer doctors trying to meet the needs of more and more patients. The continued drop of partners running practices – almost 1,000 full-time doctors in the last year – is particularly concerning.

'This means patients waiting too long to be seen, perhaps getting increasingly unwell, as well as GPs stretching themselves more thinly, which in turn affects their health and wellbeing.'

The Conservatives pledged to recruit 6,000 more GPs over the next five years as part of their election manifesto, although previous health secretary Jeremy Hunt failed to materialise similar promises

Dr Kasaraneni said: 'The Government insists it will increase the number of GPs by 6,000, and if it wants to realise this ambition – and learn from mistakes of the past – it must do an awful lot more to increase recruitment and retention.'

Under the new GP contract announced earlier this month, the Government pledged to increase GP training places from 3,500 to 4,000 a year from 2021, building on the success of recent trainee recruitment.

However, earlier this month Pulse revealed that despite the increase in trainees, the Government could actually have almost 2,000 fewer fully qualified FTE GPs by the start of 2024/25 than in 2019, if the current annual decrease in fully qualified FTE GP numbers continues.


Readers' comments (13)

  • How many extra thousands have the government promised?

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  • Nhsfatcat

    Headline: Over half a million patients lose their GP as there are 277 fewer whole time GPs.

    277 is a small number; spin the bollocks out of it so it means something.

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  • if you multiply the number by 1800 (av number pts per GP) that comes to just under 52 million patients, current population is 56 million for england, which means that 4 million people are not accounted for, safe practice comes as 1600 patients or less per GP though. As patients are registered to partners the actual number per partner comes out at approx 3100 per partner. This is clearly unsafe. You may argue that the excess are being managed by ANPS, paramedics and PAs and on line GP services. However, the evidence clearly shows that life expectancy is falling, poverty and ill health has increased, waiting times in hospitals are getting worse every year, the NHS is collapsing. so clearly, this compensation method is not working. It would work out economically cheaper, in the long term, to employ more GPs as the most cost effective solution. simple mathematics. we do less tests. admit less. do more per consult. simple truths. so initially you have to pay more to get us to stay and remove the pension tax barrier but this will probably only cost an extra 2 billion per year direct to GPs. compared to 168 billion spent on the NHS per year in total. its not a lot of money but would drastically change the face of general practice. even then they would still be paid significantly less than working abroad.As it stands there is no incentive to stay as a GP in the UK, young or old. To cope with the pension changes most FT GPs will have to reduce their hours, the only way to really do this is to reduce practice sizes or close practices altogether.

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  • In other news: A man yesterday had both his legs cut off.
    Matt Hancock stated : "This is a really, really exciting development, as it means that now 100 % of his limbs are now arms".

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  • At least there`ll be more room in the surgeries for the other GPs...

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  • Hope Matt wiped his mouth after this ,he has followed through and awful lot.

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  • Last Man Standing, you are right, sure he knows this. And I think he has just shared with us his incredible skill in interpreting and applying it. We should all learn from the highest source 😁😢

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  • ah, but that's 28,319 FTE GPs who haven't retired yet, so if we retain them all we will have 56,638. Then if we count all the schoolkids who are applying to medical school, plus all the doctors who have retired who might come back ...
    Doubleplusgood mathematics, brought to you by the Minister for Truth

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  • Teamwork in action; GMC RCGP CQC and the BMA have all done their bit.

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