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Parties’ pledges on GP numbers ‘only achievable by 2045’

An RCGP analysis has found it will take 30 years for Labour and UKIP to increase the number of GPs by 8,000 as promised in their manifestos if current trends continue.

A pre-election statement from the college also warns that the Conservatives’ pledge for 5,000 new GPs will take 20 years unless an emergency package of measures is introduced.

Alongside this analysis, the college has published an opinion poll of 1,000 people carried out with ComRes, which found that almost nine in ten patients cite protecting GP services as a high priority for political parties ahead of the election.

It also found that over half of them anticipate having to wait longer for GP appointments over the next two years and only 4% believe waiting times will get shorter.

The analysis by the college said: ‘If current trends continue, patients will have to wait until 2045 for the 8,000 extra GPs promised by Labour and UKIP in their manifestos; and until 2034 to realise the 5000 more family doctors proposed at the Conservative Party conference.’

Commenting on the figures, RCGP honorary secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said: ‘While both the numerical targets announced by the parties are achievable, both a Labour-led or a Conservative-led government would need to introduce an emergency package of measures, immediately after the election, otherwise the future government would risk missing its targets by many, many years.

‘If the new government – of whichever colour – misses its GP workforce target, then millions of patients will continue to have to wait more than a week to see their GP every year, and increasing numbers of family doctors will feel it is more and more difficult to deliver excellent patient care.’

A survey by Pulse last week revealed that one in ten GP partner positions are currently vacant, an increase of 50% from last year.


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