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Independents' Day

Number of fully qualified FTE GPs drops by 2.5% in a year

The number of fully qualified full-time equivalent GPs dropped by 2.5% from March 2019 to March 2020, the latest official figures show.

The data released by NHS Digital today shows there were 27,985 FTE GPs on 31 March 2020 - 712 fewer than 31 March 2019. The total number of GPs also decreased by 0.6%.

NHS Digital said that its data had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but added: ’We believe that the headline figures included in the bulletin remain of immediate use, even when balanced against these data quality considerations.’

The new report shows an 8.9% increase in FTE ’direct patient care staff’, up to 14,134 - an increase of 1,158.

The Conservatives pledged to increase GP numbers by 6,000 by 2024/25 in their 2019 election manifesto, having failed to meet the original target of a 5,000 increase from 2015 to 2020.

The latest figures reveal that there are, in fact, 1,400 fewer FTE qualified GPs in March 2020 than there were when the previous health secretary Jeremy Hunt made his pledge in September 2015.

The number of FTE GP partners fell by 5.4% in the year, with the number of salaried GPs increasing by 4.5%.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team workforce lead, said: ’These figures continue to show a worrying decline in the number of full-time equivalent GPs and GP partners specifically over the last year. In recent months, general practice has rallied around in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, working innovatively to continue providing care to patients, and proving the true value of holistic, person-centred care delivered within communities.

’In a post-Covid world it is imperative that this work is not forgotten and that this value is truly recognised, to ensure this foundation of the NHS is given the freedom and resources it needs to provide high quality care to patients.’

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said: ’It’s very concerning to see the number of full-time equivalent GPs in the profession continues to fall. We had 712 fewer fully-qualified FTE GPs in March than we did a year earlier. These figures show that while attention has been understandably focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce challenges have not gone away. This must be addressed – policy makers must not forget the promises that have been made for general practice, including 6,000 more FTE GPs, so that we can continue to deliver care to more than a million patients a day.

‘Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen the goodwill of retired GPs returning to support the NHS and we would like to see initiatives introduced to retain these GPs post-pandemic, particularly those who retired early due to undoable workload. During the crisis we’ve seen that general practice functions well without so much bureaucracy, and if this in turn helps keep GPs in the profession then it’s something that should be considered in future plans.’


NHS Digital figures in full

 March 2019March 2020% difference March 2019 - March 2020
All GPs 34,736 34,327 -1.2
All Fully Qualified GPs (excludes Registrars)  28,697 27,985 -2.5
All Regular GPs (excludes Locums)  33,420 33,135 -0.9
All Qualified Permanent GPs (excludes Registrars & Locums) 27,381 26,793 -2.1
GP Partners 18,933 17,910 -5.4
Salaried GPs 8,299 8,671 4.5
GP Registrars  6,039 6,342 5.0
GP Retainers 149 211 42.2
GP Locums  1,316 1,192 -9.4

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Readers' comments (24)

  • National Hopeless Service

    Thank goodness that we have access to one session of a social prescriber then.

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  • So, four years into GPFV, we're nearly 1.5k FTEs down.

    Bravo, RCGP.

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  • For a government that believes in market forces there is a very simple answer to this problem - ££££££££££££. This won't happen until it's too late & the system completely collapses at which point greedy GPs will get the blame.

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  • Here’s another one you’ll be gone by Xmas.

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  • Who’ll

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  • PULSE 22 February 2017

    "Mr Hunt! I know where your 5,000 extra GPs are" by Phil Peverley.
    The most brilliant article Pulse ever published with Immediate relevance then, now and quite possibly in the future. It attracted 72 comments snd it exposed where the intelligent GPs are hiding when some others put their lives on the line - literally.

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  • Never mind !
    By june, there were an extra 6,000 (returning FT retired GPs)that's 20%.
    Annualised, (of course), that is 24,000 per 12 months FTE GP equivalents - nearly 60%.
    Mr Hunt has fixed the problem.
    Anyone dare challenge his (my?) maths?

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  • @anonymouse3 - be careful... you've just given Matt Hancock tomorrows briefing for the press....

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  • All typical government spin... same bollocks as all the PPE & testing fiasco.
    They just make up those numbers, as they go along. Looks good in the Daily Hate Mail...
    Never trust any 'five year plan', the former Soviet Union and there vassal states went tits up despite, or maybe because of their 'five year plans'.
    Just you wait & see.
    Meanwhile, I'll be retiring early...

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  • thankfully we now have all the extra workforce via the pcn's; what great forward thinking by our elders and betters
    i sleep so much better at night with these changes, knowing that they are in charge
    ha ha ha ha ha
    which is what all this is; a bloody joke
    couldn't fix a leaky tap, this lot; let alone a leaking and broken workforce
    reduced my hours this year; best move i ever made

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