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Independents' Day

GP numbers fall 3% since 2009

The number of GPs per 100,000 population in England has declined by 2.6% since 2009, the Government has revealed.

In 2013 there were 67.8 GPs per 100,000 people, which was down compared to 69.6 in 2009, health minister Dr Daniel Poulter revealed in response to a parliamentary question.

The Government has ‘recognised the need to increase the GP workforce’, had increased full-time equivalent GPs by 1,051 since 2011, and mandated that by 2016 50% of medical students would go into GP training, he said in the written response to Labour shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham MP.

Meanwhile another written question from a Labour MP threw up statistics that showed in the past five years for which figures were available, from 2007/08 until 2012/13, spending on general practice grew by only 9%, compared to a 40% growth in the previous five years between 2003/04 to 2007/08.

The figures emerged as Prime Minister David Cameron came under fire on GP numbers and funding during Question Time on Wednesday. Labour MP for North East Derbyshire Natascha Engel said that in her constituency, ‘three large GP practics in the most deprived areas… are facing a crisis’, as she asked what Mr Cameron was doing about GP numbers to address a national shortage of 10,000.

Meanwhile, Bethnal Green and Bow’s Labour MP Rushanara Ali said: ‘On the Prime Minister’s watch, five GP surgeries in my borough, and 98 nationally, face closure. Is that what he meant when he promised to protect the NHS?’

Responding to the questions, Mr Cameron admitted that ‘to provide more GPs, we need to provide money’ but claimed the Government was doing this already.

He said: ‘This Government have increased spending on the NHS, which the Labour party told us was irresponsible. What we see in our NHS today is 7,000 more doctors, more nurses and more midwives, but 19,000 fewer bureaucrats. I think that is absolutely vital in providing the health services we need.’

‘What I meant when I said we would protect the NHS is just that. We are spending £12.7 billion more on the NHS; Labour said that that was irresponsible. We have 7,000 more doctors in our NHS, 3,000 more nurses in our NHS, and over 1,000 more midwives in our NHS, but there is something we have less of in our NHS — we have 19,000 fewer bureaucrats, and that money has been piled into patient care, including improving primary care right around the country.’

Last year, a Nuffield Trust report highlighted that the number of GPs per 100,000 population had risen from 58.1 in 2000, but the study authors said this needed to improve to around 83 to 84 GPs per 100,000 population by 2030. They concluded that in order to achieve this, the Government would need to make general practice more appealing as a career choice.

The Nuffield Trust has also warned that spending on GP services dropped over the past 10 years, while investment in hospitals rose sharply, showing the Department of Health’s plans to shift more care into the community and cut costs were ‘in reverse’, and that as a proportion of GDP spending on NHS on the whole is also decreasing, despite Government claims the health budget is protected.

The debate feeds into the parallel campaigns recently launched by the RCGP and the BMA for more funding to general practice, with both calling for GP services to receive at least 11% of the total NHS budget, after it fell to about 8.4%.

Readers' comments (18)

  • Camoron waffles on about "doctor numbers" rather than specifically GP numbers because he can't answer the question.
    Jeremy Hunt and The DAILY MAIL have hideously and in a gruesume way attacked GPs and now-guess what nobody wants to become a GP.
    Unless they start "torturing" medical students and junior doctors, things are only going to get worse.

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  • Tory scum. How come in private industry to aspire to a good wage and good standard of living is ok but if you're a GP or work in the public sector, aspiring to suh ideals is "greedy/selfish/slovenly" (pick adjective) and we should be happy working for free for the warm fuzzy feeling it gives us.

    To hell with it. My goodwill is exhausted. Bring on the collapse of the NHS let's see what my true Market value is. I care about numbers 1, 2, and 3 - my family. You patients all only have yourselves to blame for guzzling the garbage produced by the right wing press like greedy news gannets....

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  • Vinci Ho

    How many types of lies are there?(you should know by now )
    We are people's doctors. This government has done everything and anything to turn against GPs . Hence it has turned against people of the country!(call that slogan screaming if you want).
    This is a warning to ALL politicians of ALL parties as well as those shamelessly ingratiating with these politicians.

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  • David Cameron blah blah blah blah blah- all sound bites- he can talk till he is blue in the face about numbers and stats but its NOT HELPING what we see on the ground level. GPs stressed and leaving the profession, ill patients suffering the consequences but all at the same time that i frequently see patients with the most ridiculous pathetic ailments/blemishes that are cosmetically unacceptable to them- they are given the same access- i don't have a problem with seeing the worried well in their hoards but i do when its usually at the detriment of elderly stoical ill patients. This easy/free access for any minor complaints at the detriment of ill patients is literally killing us all! DAVID CAMERON MAN UP!!!

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  • SORT OUT THE CSA and watch the numbers raise.
    nobody wants to do all the work for three years and then be thrown out at the end

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  • Somehow I think they are starting to panic as the penny drops

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  • Yes, you have got rid of the unnecessary 19000 bureaucrats, but offer them similar jobs with redundancy pay. In a mission of cost cutting - cheaper deals were given to large numbers of school drop outs who can't do the job properly ! Look at the mess they are creating in NHSE payment to the practices, they hide behind the code/ jargon of saying they will do 'adjustment' i.e. i made a mess will correct it in future! There is no one at the other end of the phone to talk and sense what is going on? All we can do is to send dozens of emails!!!!

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  • Can we trust these figures? Reading these anguished columns you would think 25% had bailed-out.
    What really counts is GP man-hours, not a head count.

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  • Those GPs left, are trying to shoulder the workload of the 3% who have gone.

    It is killing us. So I do not agree. The head count is important.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Yes, I think the penny has finally dropped, but it too late as the bolus of faeces is rolling downhill and has built up too much momentum

    How do you "force" 50% of medical graduates to become GPs? I guess you could drop GP training and say people have to do 2-3 years as a GP before specialist training? (er... like could happen in 1930???)

    Anyway, I hope if 50% do start to train as GPs they will then emigrate! (I've found a reliable internet pharmacy now and I guess I can always go to ED if I think I am really ill????)

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