Alarm at decline in GP numbers

(from 27/5/22: News –

GP numbers remain in “steady but sustained” decline, the British Medical Association has warned following the publication of new data.

NHS England data shows that total GP numbers, including trainees, are fewer than a year ago, whether measures as full time equivalent or by numbers of doctors.

The data suggests that big increases in trainee numbers are failing to outweigh the number of doctors leaving the profession.

Overall, in April the NHS reported 26 fewer fully qualified GPs in April compared with March. This included the loss of 49 GP partners.

Quarterly data, reported in March, showed that with trainees, the number of doctors in general practice increased by the equivalent of 673 full time doctors over a year. The number of fully qualified GPs fell by 369.

The BMA said the latest data now shows that 45% of GP appointments in April took place on the day they were booked. It pointed to an increase in face to face appointments – two million more in April this year than a year ago.

Dr Samira Anane, from its GP committee, said: “It’s remarkable then to think that all of this has been achieved against a backdrop of chronic workforce shortages, and depleted resources and Government funding.

Care under threat

“It’s incredibly worrying to see the number of GPs leaving the NHS get higher, and for each one that leaves, that’s another family doctor who is having to take on more work, become more vulnerable to stress, and also potentially leave a profession they love. Patient care is already under threat because of this, and the Government cannot afford to keep its head in the sand for much longer.

“Without real investment, a dedicated workforce plan, and enough resources for primary care to function properly, these monthly staffing figures will continue to spiral – and it’ll be too late for anyone to do anything.”

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “These latest figures show that GPs and our teams are working to their absolute limits, consistently making more patient consultations every month than in the same month’s pre-pandemic.

“This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of overstretched GP teams to deliver care, and often increasingly complex care, to the growing numbers of patients that need it, despite having insufficient workforce and resources to do so sustainably. Working under these intense workload and workforce pressures is unsafe and unsustainable, leaving GP teams exhausted and many on the verge of burning out.

“The Government must act now and provide general practice with the support and funding it desperately needs to safely deliver patient care and services. This must start with urgent progress on government’s manifesto promise of 6,000 more full time equivalent GPs, and 26,000 more members of the wider team, by 2024.”