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More GPs leaving general practice as backlog for care nears 6m

by Jess Hacker
10 December 2021

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New workforce data has revealed that 40 additional GPs left general practice between September and October in England this year, bringing the total to 321 since last December.

The latest GP workforce data (9 December) indicates the total number of fully qualified GPs is now down to 27,659, while the number of full-time admin and non-clinical staff stands at 70,511.

Dr Farah Jameel, GPC chair at the BMA, said the situation that practices now find themselves in is ‘not sustainable’.

She commented: ‘All GPs and their teams want to be able to provide is the best care that meets their patients’ needs, but with such a depleted workforce they are increasingly unable to meet complexity and demand in a way that is timely, effective and ultimately, safe – for patients or themselves.’

Dr Jameel reiterated the BMA’s commitment to working with the Government to deliver solutions focused on training, recruitment and retention.

Care backlog hits another record high

Meanwhile, the waiting list for routine hospital treatment has now grown to 5.98 million, according to new NHS performance data, also published yesterday.

It also revealed that by the end of October, 65.6% of patients waiting to start treatment were waiting up to 18 weeks, not meeting the 92% standard.

According to the Health Foundation, the figures also indicate a significant disparity by location in how long patients are expected to wait.

It said that more than one-in-10 (13%) of patients waiting for routine hospital treatment in Birmingham and Solihull have waited over a year, compared to only one-in-100 (1%) in South West London.

‘Restoring NHS services will also require a commitment to fixing longer-term problems across the health and care system,’ Tim Gardner, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, said.

‘As well as focusing on hospitals, the recovery plan will need to boost services in primary care and care in the community to keep more people from becoming ill in the first place.

‘And there must be a plan tackle widespread NHS staff shortages which will continue to hamper efforts to recover services.’

It comes after GPs warned the health secretary that they are seeing an increasing number of referrals to secondary care being rejected ‘at the outset’, with the ‘lack of access’ to referral pathways putting huge undue pressure on primary care.