The Government is ‘set to miss’ its target of increasing the number of GPs by 6,000 by 2025, analysis by the Nuffield Trust has found.
Although the GP headcount in England had risen by 1,385 since the 2019 general election, when this promise was made, the number of full-time, fully qualified GPs had decreased by 105.
The research found that fewer GPs are working full-time, and more are opting for early retirement.
The thinktank would have expected to see more than 1,700 full-time, fully qualified GPs to be in post, Nuffield Trust researcher Lucina Rolewicz, has argued.
There have been only a few instances where the annual increase in GPs has been greater than 1,200, the data indicates, which is the yearly increase needed to reach the Government’s target.
National figures are hiding substantial local differences in staffing, Ms Rolewicz wrote in a blog post.
‘Our analysis of GP numbers shows large differences in much of London and the South East compared to other regions in England,’ she wrote.
Thurrock, for example, has 2,373 patients per GP compared with the North West, where the Wirral has only 1,318 patients per GP.
‘Although the Government has not yet spelled out exactly how it is measuring its ambition of an additional 6,000 GPs, judging by progress on the number of fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs, it is fair to say the Government looks set to miss the 2025 target,’ said Ms Rolewicz.
‘The Government will need to do more to attract and keep full-time equivalent GPs in post if it wants to meet its manifesto commitment.’
The 6,000 extra GPs by 2024/25 was a Conservative Party election pledge in 2019, alongside 50 million more GP appointments.