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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP numbers decrease by more than 1,000 over past year

The number of full-time equivalent GPs in England decreased by 1,200 from September 2016 to September 2017, official figures have revealed. 

The official NHS Digital statistics also revealed that the total number of GPs decreased by 541 over the same period.

They also show a decrease of 1,300 FTE GPs since September 2015 – when the Government set its target to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020, meaning ministers have gone backwards in their attempts to reach the figure.

The target was announced in June 2015, as part of health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s ’new deal’, with a pledge to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 FTE GPs by 2020.

However, FTE GP numbers have been constantly falling ever since, with the Government now having to find 6,300 more GPs by 2020 to meet its target.

NHS England announced earlier in the year that it is looking to recruit 3,000 GPs from overseas in a bid to help reach the target – despite Mr Hunt’s original aim specifying these extra GPs would be ’trained and retained’ by the NHS.

The figures also reveal that the NHS has lost 1,600 GPs since the release of the GP Forward View in April 2016, which was designed to boost recruitment.

The plans developed by NHS England involved an uplift in total GP funding of £2.4bn a year by 2020, and a separate package of £500m to implement immediate measures to support general practice.

This included measures to incentivise GPs to move to the areas hardest hit by the recruitment crisis, to incentivise GPs to stay in practice if they were considering leaving, and to smooth the process to re-enter UK general practice.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, the BMA GP Committee’s lead on workforce issues, said: ’The BMA has successfully lobbied the Government to invest more in general practice, with £500 million of recurrent, extra funding guaranteed in talks earlier this year to help alleviate the pressures on overstretched GP services.

‘But general practice still faces a stark workforce crisis with too many GPs retiring early and too few entering the profession, leaving many GP practices struggling, despite their best efforts, to provide enough appointments to patients. This latest fall in GP numbers demonstrates that the Government needs to work with organisations like the BMA to ensure we have a coherent workforce plan that gives GP services the capacity to meet rising levels of patient demand.’

 September 2015March 2016September 2016December 2016March 2017June 2017September 2017 - provisional
All practitioners 34,592 34,914 34,495 34,126 33,921 33,560 33,302
GP providers 21,937 21,597 21,163 20,835 20,702 20,499 20,234
Salaried/other GPs 7,292 7,436 7,295 7,300 7,390 7,359 7,603
GP registrars 4,729 5,114 5,273 5,259 4,799 4,647 4,346
GP retainers 67 78 72 69 81 84 90
GP locums 567 690 692 663 949 970 1,029

Readers' comments (37)

  • I wonder whay kind of 'things often get worse before they get better' pish Jeremy and the Selfservatives are going to come out with.

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  • I think we should take guesses at which comment will be used to try and hide the car crash that is General Practice recruitment.
    1 Things always get worse before they get better. or2 Early days our policies will work in the fullness of time. or 3 The total numbers are up(Short session part timers.) or some other spin on the data or 4 Oh ....t looks like we have a real problem and may lose NHS base primary care very soon.

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  • You can minus another one from that overall figure.

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  • ...one more going...going...

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  • The biggest problem the NHS faces is " no one wants to be one anymore" ; be it nurses, midwives, GPS or A&E dr. Med school places now go to clearing . Not sure which bit of this Mr Hunt doesn't understand . No staff: No service . You have broken us and it irreparably. The NHS isn't about numbers it is about people.

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  • Nhsfatcat

    2,388,000 patients would be served by the 1194 wt equivalents that are now not practicing. In the UK where 40billion and big numbers are thrown about everyday, what’s a few thousand GPs? Not with bothering about -meh.

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  • "This latest fall in GP numbers demonstrates that the government needs to work with organisations like the BMA to ensure we have a coherent workforce plan that gives GP services the capacity to meet rising levels of patient demand."

    Both the government and The BMA have no idea, or wilfully choose to take note of what grassroots GPs need in order to function. Both are significantly out of touch!

    Oh and add another to the diminishing list in 2018.....

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  • The NHS is about people not about shibeny hospitals scanners and apps. it about the people satff and patient end off.Lose sight of this as they have and the damage will take a generation to fix.

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  • Dear Mr Hunt,
    Re-instating Seniority payments, along with issuing an extremely grovelling apology for removing them, might be an idea worth considering.

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  • AlanAlmond

    You can add another to the numbers ...I’m going in January
    I’m not retiring, I’m leaving. I’ve got plenty of years work left to give but it won’t be with the NHS thanks very much.

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