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Number of EEA GPs in the UK drops by 10% in seven years

The number of GPs from the EEA practising in the UK has fallen by 10% since 2012, according to a report by the GMC.

The regulator’s workforce report, published today, showed that the overall number of licensed GPs has grown by 6% between 2012 and 2019, driven by an 8% increase in both UK trained GPs and international medical graduate (IMG) GPs.

However, this rise is less than half of the increase seen in the number of specialists (14%), the report found.

The report, called The state of medical education and practice in the UK: The workforce report, said: ‘The growth in the number of licensed GPs has mostly been a result of large increases (8%) in UK trained GPs, with growth in IMG GPs being roughly the same from a much smaller base.

‘The number of EEA GPs has fallen significantly – by 10% – though EEA GPs are a relatively small proportion of the total (5% in 2019).’

The report added: ‘Over the last three years, the number of IMG GP trainees has increased by almost two thirds. IMGs now represent 23% of all GP trainees, up from 16% three years ago.’

However, the data also showed that the overall number of EEA doctors working in the UK increased by 0.8% from 2017 to 2018, following the EU referendum result. The figure also increased by 2.2% from 2018 to 2019. 

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘Doctors are in short supply so demand is high worldwide.

‘Overseas doctors have long played crucial roles in UK health services. But now our workforce is more diverse than ever, at a time when pressures on our health services make retaining doctors a huge challenge.’

In response to the report, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul called for improved resources for GPs to improve both retention and recruitment.

He said: ‘Doctors’ wellbeing must also be made a priority, as well as ensuring continued recruitment from overseas and addressing pension reform.’

The report also showed that a third of GPs have reduced their hours over the past year.