This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Only one FTE GP produced for every three graduates trained, says NHS England

For every three GPs trained as full-time equivalent (FTE) only around one remains in general practice, according to NHS England. 

Speaking at Pulse Live last month, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikita Kanani said more work needs to be done to attract more GPs to stay in the profession as only one for every three full-time equivalent trained GPs stays in the profession. 

In October, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock revealed that the health sector had recruited almost 3,500 GP trainees have been recruited, which exceedeed the 3,250 target for the first time and represented a 10% increase on the previous year.

Health Education England last week revealed that the number of trainees is set to increase even more this year after it recruited record numbers of graduates in the first round of intake.

But Pulse has revealed that more GPs than ever are working part time now, which may be having an effect on the number of trainees coming through the system.

Dr Kanani said that simply increasing the number of trainees may not be enough to increase GP numbers.

She said: 'We’ve now got five generations working in the NHS, so what generation one wants starting their working life is different to what generation five wants. When I go around the country speaking to trainees and  medical students, many say they weren’t encouraged to join general practice.

'It’s not been a career aspiration for a decade and we’re losing GPs dramatically. We’re training three whole-time equivalent GPs but we have one who stays as a whole-time equivalent GP. We have to change that, we have to make the day job better and we have to make it more attractive.'

She cited a report published by the King’s Fund, which found that there were 3,067 places available for GP training in 2014 but this produced only 1,250 (40%) became full-time equivalent starters. 

Talking about funding in general practice through the new five-year GP contract, Dr Kanani added that the additional staff provided through the primary care networks will help support practice teams, given the 'massively short supply of GPs and nurses'. 

As part of the contract, NHS England will fund 22,000 additional practice staff – including pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing workers – by 2023/24.

Dr Kanani said: 'We know there is a massively short supply because the working conditions haven't been good enough for the plast 10 or 15 years. So we're bringing in staff to support mutli-disciplinary teams but we're still going to keep going with plans to recruit GPs and nurses.'

As part of the contract, NHS England will fund 22,000 additional practice staff – including pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing workers – by 2023/24.

In 2015, then health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to add at least 10,000 extra primary care staff, including 5,000 GPs, within five years. But Mr Hancock told Pulse earlier this year that although the target is still there it will not be met by 2020.

Data from NHS Digital released in February showed that the number of fully qualified FTE GPs has dropped by 2% pver the past year

It came after an analysis by the Health Foundation said worrying trends in the NHS workforce, including falling numbers of FTE GPs, will seriously hinder the Government's plan to move care out of hospitals and into the community.

Meanwhile, a major report looking at NHS workforce gaps found that the NHS will have 7,000 fewer FTE GPs than needed within five year, despite a major focus on increasing GP trainee numbers by 2024.  

This article was changed. It originally said GP training places led to an equivalent of 65% FTE equivalent GPs - this was incorrect

Are you looking for a new GP job? Search through 100s of vacancies on Pulse GP Jobs, our job site designed to help GPs find their next career move.

Readers' comments (44)

  • ‘According to a recent report published by the King’s Fund, of the 2,670 doctors (87%) who started their GP specialist training in 2014, only 1,250 (65%) became full-time equivalent starters.’ ???

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So was 65% just wishful thinking (now reduced to 40%)?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Apologies - this was an error. Thanks for pointing this out

  • This comment has been removed

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • AL "4 TRIES IN ONE GAME" BUNDY

    Dr Kanani said: 'We know there is a massively short supply because the working conditions haven't been good enough for the plast 10 or 15 years.

    So we're bringing in staff to support mutli-disciplinary teams but we're still going to keep going with plans to recruit GPs and nurses.'

    How about making the working conditions good enough for the next 10 or 15 years.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Something that is always puzzled me is that anyone can promise to "have 10000 GPs more in the next ..x..x years"
    What if you don't have 10000 people wanting to become GPs????

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • General Practice will not become popular until there is:

    Less regulation
    More autonomy to practice and refer as one feels. GPs are not machines
    More continuity of care
    Allowing GPs to choose the colleagues that they feel happy working with. We all want to choose our ‘tribes’
    Less litigation
    Less work
    Higher income
    More respect from the regulators, paymasters, hospital doctors, media, politicians and the general public

    Basically General Practice needs to move more back to how things were many years ago

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Most newly trained GPs elect to work as locums, not just because more of them are female with families, but because one can simply walk away from the stress of the job and leave all the complaints, bureaucracy etc. to GP partners

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Regulated to death. Dumping Appraisal and Revalidation, and closing down the CQC would overnight improve recruitment and retention, and would save £millions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Lets get the language right
    Many GPs are working full time – but not all in clinical practice (ie face to face clinical care). You would never say a consultant surgeon who only did 3 operating lists per week and one outpatient clinic as part time – or a psychiatrist who did 3 outpatient clinics and a ward round. Yet a GP who might do 5 face to face surgeries, a session as an appraiser, do a session as a lead for mental health and one as practice lead for QOF will be called ‘part time’. GP often mix their time between one place (GP surgery) and another role – so GPWSI or leadership etc. They are not part time.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • its not about female GPs, of all the people i trained with on my GPR scheme only one is still an actual full time partner (mostly male on my scheme), the rest have portfolio work like LMC, training, CCG stuff, work part time or have left GP or the UK altogether (33%). It's the job. Its pants. people are voting with their feet cause no one is listening. bring in all the extras as you want. They will cost more in the long run. Pointless

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say