Fifth of GP practices have closed or merged since NHS England was formed

More than 1,600 GP practices in England have closed or merged since NHS England became operational in April 2013, cutting the number of practices by a fifth, analysis by GPonline shows.

Closed sign in window
(Photo: Chris McLoughlin/Getty Images)

There are now 6,495 GP practices in England, according to figures for June 2022 from NHS Digital - down 20% from 8,106 in April 2013.

Over the same period, numbers of patients registered with GP practices have risen by 10% from just over 56m to 61.7m - driving the average list size of GP practices in England above 9,500 for the first time.

The fall in practice numbers and rising numbers of registered patients have driven average practice list size up by 37% in less than a decade, analysis by GPonline shows.

The figures underline the speed of change in general practice since NHS England became operational - and come alongside a decline in the GP workforce and an exponential drop in numbers of GP partners.

Data on the GP workforce are only available as far back as September 2015 - but in the period since then, full-time equivalent (FTE), fully qualified GPs per 100,000 patients have fallen from around 52 to 45, a 12% drop.

Over the same period, the number of GP partners in England has fallen by around 22%, while the number of GPs in salaried roles has grown by around 44%.

In September 2015 - less than seven years ago - partners made up 74% of the FTE, fully qualified GP workforce, a figure that fell to just 61% in April 2022.

GP reform

The figures come after health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said last week that the current model of primary care was 'not working' - and that he would soon publish a 'plan for change'.

Mr Javid has previously been linked with plans to 'nationalise' general practice, and earlier this year wrote the foreword to a think-tank report that said the independent contractor model of general practice was in 'terminal decline'.

The Policy Exchange report also called for the end of the GMS contract within a decade and proposed to shift general practice into a predominantly salaried service working in larger units.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK have led the largest-ever NHS vaccination programme in response...

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall

Hand PCNs control of primary care infrastructure funding, says RCGP

CCG funding for primary care infrastructure should be handed to PCNs when the bodies...

Professor Martin Marshall and Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall

Talking General Practice speaks to RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

In-house review not enough to stop 'unjust' GMC referrals, warns BMA

Doctors' leaders have repeated calls for a full independent review of the GMC referral...


How widespread is long COVID in the UK?

Millions of people in the UK are living with long COVID. GPonline looks at the data...

COVID-19 vaccination sign

GP contract for autumn COVID-19 booster campaign due shortly

GP practices in England will be invited shortly to sign up for the COVID-19 autumn...