There has been a 16% rise in the number of patients per full time equivalent (FTE) GP in the past seven years, the latest workforce data shows.
Figures for August 2022 showed there are now 1,850 fewer fully qualified FTE GPs compared with September 2015.
The BMA said the numbers highlight the ‘immense pressure’ that practices are facing with rising demand but fewer GPs.
In September 2015 there were 29,364 FTE GPs but the latest figures show this has fallen to 27,515. In the past year alone, fully qualified FTE GPs has fallen by 313, the NHS Digital data shows.
A GPC bulletin from chair Dr Farah Jameel noted that in August 2022, there was a record high almost 61.9 million patients registered at an average of 9,576 patients per practice, which she said demonstrates ‘the mounting workload in general practice’.
‘I recently wrote to the new secretary of state for health and social care Thérèse Coffey to highlight the pressures general practice is facing as we approach the winter months, including vaccine delivery, increased patient demand and rising utility and premises costs, and called for her to work with us in addressing these issues,’ she said.
‘GP practices continue work under immense pressure with rising demand and a huge shortage of GPs, and colleagues are now also bracing themselves for a torrid winter in the NHS as the combined pressures of Covid and flu, as well as the enormous NHS backlog, threaten to shatter our fragile health service.’
Nottingham GP Dr Shan Hussain told Pulse the situation is unsustainable.
He said: ‘Meanwhile the UK population has grown by almost 2.5 million people in the last seven years. So we have fewer GPs treating more patients than ever before. We can’t possibly sustain this.’
It follows claims from Dr Coffey that GP numbers have been ‘stable’ since the last election despite data showing numbers continue to fall.
She made the claims in an interview, speaking about her ‘expectation’ that GP practices offer non-urgent appointments to patients within two weeks.
Former health secretary Sajid Javid had admitted the Government will fail to fulfil its election pledge to recruit 6,000 additional full-time equivalent GPs by 2025.
Recent NHS Digital data showed GP practices in England delivered the highest proportion of face-to-face appointments since March 2020, with 65% of appointments delivered face to face in July.