Thursday 30 March 2017

GP Numbers Down By 1.3 Per Cent In NHS Despite Recuitment Vow


Ministers last year vowed to recruit 5,000 more family doctors by 2020 to tackle long waits for appointments.

But the number of full-time equivalent GPs fell 445 in the three months to the end of December, to 34,050.

And the total GP headcount – including those who work full or part-time – was down 390 over the same period to 41,475.

The fall in FTE roles represents a 1.3 per cent drop. Numbers fell fastest in South London, with a 3.4 per cent fall.

Of 13 NHS regions across England, only two avoid a drop – but added just 11 GP between them, data from NHS Digital reveals.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, head of the Royal College of GPs, said: “These figures are a huge blow – especially considering the recent efforts we know have gone into building the GP workforce.

“A drop of over 400 GPs is dreadful when we so desperately need thousands more in order to cope with ever-growing patient demand.

“We need to turn the tide. The future of the health service and patient care relies on having a robust general practice, with enough GPs to deliver the care and services our patients need.

“It is clear that current efforts to recruit more GPs and make general practice an attractive profession must be stepped up further.”

She added: “A key pledge in NHS England’s GP Forward View was to deliver 5,000 more full-time equivalent GPs and 5,000 other primary care professionals by 2020.

“Despite today’s figures being incredibly disappointing, this remains a goal worth fighting for, and we all must redouble our efforts to achieve it.”

Other figures released yesterday reveal there were 1.2million FTE staff working in the NHS in England as of the end of September.

But just 612,000 – around half – of these were professionally qualified clinical staff, such as doctors and nurses.

The number of staff employed in the service increased by 2.2 per cent over the year with the biggest rises among administrators and managers.

The number of GPs fell 0.3 per cent over this period, while the number of nurses working in GP practices increased by 2.8 per cent.


Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, from the British Medical Association, said: “These figures underline just how far we are from meeting the Government’s own target of recruiting and retaining more GPs.

“Despite the constant promises from ministers that the GP workforce would be increased by 5,000, the number of full-time GPs has fallen once again.

“While there have been encouraging increases in other healthcare professionals in general practice, what we really need are GPs who can deliver more appointments and other front line services to meet rising patient demand.”

Dr Kasaraneni added: “There is a great deal of uncertainty as Article 50 is triggered about the future status of doctors and other healthcare professionals from the European Union.

“With almost half of the 10,000 European Economic Area doctors working in the NHS considering leaving the UK because of the referendum result this could further reduce the number of GPs delivering care in the NHS.

“The NHS is at breaking point and it is not acceptable for this recruitment and retention crisis to be allowed to get worse.”

The figures come a day after the Government announced health workers would be getting a 1 per cent raise, which was branded “derisory” by unions.

Christina McAnea, from Unison, said: “Without the cash to hold on to experienced employees, the NHS staffing crisis will worsen as people leave for less stressful, better rewarded jobs elsewhere.”

The Department of Health said: “GPs are the absolute bedrock of the health service and we remain committed to an extra 5,000 doctors in general practice by 2020.

“We have made important strides over the last year to improve conditions to attract more GPs – such as paying a large amount of GP indemnity costs, cutting red tape, agreeing a new contract with their union to deliver a 1 per cent pay rise, as well as bringing in new schemes to help GPs work more flexibly towards retirement.

“We currently have a higher number of GPs in training than ever before, and we know that it will take time for this to impact on GP workforce numbers.”



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