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Number of PMS GPs falls for first time in six years

The number of GPs working under PMS contracts has fallen for the first time since 2005, new figures show.

Workforce figures published today by the NHS Information Centre show 16,403 GPs worked under PMS in 2011, down from 16,432 in 2010. In the same period, the number of GPs working under GMS increased from 18,350 to 18,750, while the number working under APMS increased from 836 to 961.

The fall in GPs working under PMS comes after six years of consecutive rises. Some 44.4% of GPs now work in PMS practices - the lowest proportion since 2005.

In January, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman warned the ‘writing is on the wall for PMS', with the health bill expected to pave the way for a single GP contract, and last week Pulse revealed PMS practices are planning redundancies and some could even be forced to close by a new wave of funding cuts.

The NHS Information Centre figures also reveal that the gap between the number of male and female GPs is narrowing, with a surge of 3% in the number of female partners in 2011, compared to a drop of 0.8% in the number of male partners.

Overall, female GPs now make up 48% of the UK workforce, compared to 38% in 2001. In Scotland, the split is even closer to 50/50, with 49.2% of the workforce now women. In England the ratio is 54/46, in Wales 57/43, and in Northern Ireland 58/42.

There are now 16,285 female GPs in total, an increase of 66% since 2001. In the same ten year period, the number of male GPs has increased by less than 1%.

The total number of GPs increased by 0.9% last year, from 39,409 to 39,780. In this period, the number of partners rose by 0.7%, while the number of salaried GPs increased by 3.2%. The number of GP registrars rose by 3.4%, but the number of GP retainers fell by 12.9%.

Scotland has the most GPs per head (8.2 per 10,000 patients), followed by England (6.8 per 10,000 patients), Wales (6.7 per 10,000 patients), and Northern Ireland (6.1 per 10,000 patients).