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Continued struggle to recruit GPs despite an increase in overall NHS workforce

by Beth Gault
23 August 2018

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The NHS workforce grew by almost 20,000 in a year, yet the number of GPs has declined amid continued staff shortages with the profession.

The workforce across the whole of the NHS grew by 1.6% between March 2017 and March 2018, figures released by NHS Digital today have revealed.

However, the number of GPs declined in the same period, the data also demonstrated –with FTE GPs falling by 235 or 0.7 % over the year.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
‘Today’s figures will be demoralising and distressing for GPs and our teams across the country who are striving to deliver care to over a million patients a day, but without the resources or workforce to do so in a way that is safe for patients, or for themselves.’

‘Despite great efforts to recruit more doctors to general practice – and we do have more GPs in training than ever before – something clearly is not working, and this must be addressed,’ said Professor Stokes-Lampard.

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There was, however, a rise in the number of practice nurses during the same period, with an uplift of 2.3% – representing 361 FTE staff.

There was also an increase in admin and non-clinical staff working in general practice between March 2017 and March 2018, up by 814 FTE, or 1.3%

The March 2018 figures show that there were 64,857 non-clinical and admin staff working in general practice across England.

BMA GP committee chair, Dr Richard Vautrey, said the GP figures were ‘very concerning’, with the situation placing a heavy burden on the general practice workforce as a whole.

‘The continued decline in the number of GPs across the country is placing extreme pressure on practices and on GPs who are already working above and beyond to meet growing patient demand,’ he said.

‘Given the low morale amongst GPs as well as the wider NHS workforce, and the government’s failed promises to deliver on GP recruitment, the new health secretary must deliver on his pledge to prioritise workforce by delivering the necessary investment and action required to see the tangible change.’

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