The number of full-time equivalent GPs in the UK has increased by 1.7% since 2013, with an increase in the numbers of GPs overall, official figures have revealed.
However, the statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that the number of GP partners and principals is continuing to decrease.
They also show that the increase in the number of consultants in the system is continuing to outpace GP numbers.
There were 40,584 GPs in the UK in 2014, an increase of 0.9% on 2013, while the number of FTE GPs grew to 32,628, an increase of 1.7%.
Last year, the same figures revealed that there had been a 0.1% annual decrease in the overall number of GPs, although there had been an increase in the number of FTE GPs by 1.2%.
However, this lagged way behind the 3.7% increase in the numbers of FTE consultants, which now stands at 40,400.
Other notable figures include:
- In 2013, female GPs outnumbered male GPs for the first time and this year’s report reveals that the number of female GPs – both FTE and overall – is continuing to grow rapidly, while the number of male GPs is continuing to decline.
- The number of single-handed practitioners is continuing to decline rapidly, decreasing by 35 (2.5%) from last year and 40% from 2004.
- There are more GPs per 100,000 residents now – 66.5 – than there were in 2004 (62.9).
The report reveals a ‘continuing trend to work in general practice for a salary than as a partner’, with the numbers of partners and principals (providers) decreasing.
It says: ‘Between 2004 and 2014 the total number of practitioners (headcount) rose by 13.6%, to 35,819; the number of GP providers has however fallen by 9.0% since 2004 to 26,183 in 2014 and down from the 2005 high of 29,340.
‘The number of salaried/other practitioners (headcount) shows an increase of 7,143 since 2004; this 260.5% increase from 2,742 to 9,885 in 2014 indicates the continuing trend to work in general practice for a salary rather than as a partner. This can be seen across both male and female salaried/other GPs who have seen an average annual rise of 11.3% and 14.9% respectively since 2004.’
Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC executive member, said: ‘Any increase in the number of GPs would be welcome because we’re really struggling and obviously we need more GPs, but the rise is a drop in the ocean, considering the demand has spiralled, and I’d be very surprised if that made any difference at all to the crisis general practice is currently facing.’
She added that the pensions changes from April would see a reduction in the number of FTE GPs: ‘I think we’re going to be looking at a large number of GPs over the age of 55 considering taking their pension and reducing their number of sessions, rather than increasing.’
On the issue of the decreasing number of partners, Dr McCarron-Nash said: ‘Young doctors are shunning becoming partners because of the huge workload issues and the insecurity regarding income.
‘I don’t blame them. What we need to do is invest in the partnership model, and invest in practices so young doctors feel that they do have that security. Otherwise, we’re going to lose a system that the majority of GPs say they wish to consider at some point in their career.’