England has lost the equivalent of 1,700 full-time, fully qualified GPs since 2015, the latest NHS workforce data shows.
Published yesterday (4 November), the dataset showed the NHS had 27,699 fully qualified full-time equivalent GPs as of September this year: 300 fewer than this month last year.
This number rises to 36,275 when factoring in all FTE GPs – including GPs in Training Grade – up from 35,434 the year before.
Meanwhile, the number of FTE GP partners stands at 19,714: more than 900 fewer than the 20,627 GP partners counted in September 2020.
Commenting on the stats, Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team member, said: ‘While new doctors may be choosing general practice, this is not keeping up with the high numbers of GPs leaving or reducing their hours in the face of unsustainable, unsafe workloads and rising hostility against the profession.’
Ministers must ‘do something tangible’ and ‘meaningful’ to retain GPs, rather than ‘merely recognising that they are way behind their target’, he said.
Speaking at the House of Commons Health and Social Care committee, Sajid Javid said: ‘Whether a GP or not, people have a right to, whether they move to part-time, or in some cases they might retire earlier than otherwise.’
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), said the admission ‘isn’t surprising’.
Similarly, the Government faced criticism last week after it ‘failed’ to use the Spending Review as an opportunity to address the NHS’ chronic workforce shortages.
The Treasury had confirmed £5.9bn investment into digital tech and to tackle England’s growing backlog for care, which currently sits at 5.7 million people.
However, chancellor Rishi Sunak was criticised for the lack of a workforce plan, with dedicated funding for training.
‘Yet despite pledges, promises and manifesto commitments, the government has failed to use this Spending Review to answer the question of how it will chart a path out of the staffing crisis by setting out the funding for a multi-year workforce strategy,’ Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said.