PCNs have recruited as many as 16,000 staff via the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS), NHS England has said.
In an operational update, it suggested that as of 31 December 2021 PCNs were only 10,000 short of recruiting 26,000 ARRS staff: a target the Government had previously pledged to meet by 2024.
It comes after the RCGPs estimated in January that only 9,464 ARRS roles had been filled across PCNs as of September 2021, suggesting the Government risked failing to meet its target.
NHS England also reported that there were 36,009 FTE doctors working in general practice in England as of January 2022, representing a decrease of 182 on the previous month.
The health secretary had previously admitted the Government was not on track to deliver on its second manifesto pledge to recruit 6,000 additional FTE GPs by 2025.
Earlier this month, the House of Lords voted through an amendment to the Health and Care Bill requiring the Government publish independent reports on workforce numbers every two years.
The amendment – backed by around 100 organisations including the NHS Confederation – would require the health secretary to present a report outlining ‘the system in place for assessing and meeting the workforce needs’ of the sector.
It will also be accompanied by an ‘independently verified assessment’ of current workforce numbers and ‘the projected workforce supply for the following five, 10 and 20 years’.
MPs had previously voted against a similar amendment to the Bill proposed by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair, said at the time that the Government had ‘squandered this opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to safe staffing in the NHS’.
It comes weeks after NHS Digital revealed that the overall number of staff vacancies in England has topped 110,000, increasing by more than 20,000 across 2021.