No end in sight for GP workforce crisis, warns think tank

There is 'no immediate or easy end in sight' to the shortage of GPs facing the NHS, a leading think tank has warned.

Numbers of staff in primary care are 'moving further away from the government target of net growth of 5,000 more' full-time equivalent GPs by 2020, a report by the Health Foundation warns.

It highlights recent data showing that GP numbers are in decline - with a slight rise reported in August failing to cancel out a large decline highlighted in figures published at the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, numbers of managers employed in the NHS are now rising faster than any other major staff group, the think tank said - up 11% since 2015, but with overall numbers still 12% below 2010 levels.

The think tank report highlights government plans to recruit 2,000 GPs from outside the UK, but questions evidence to support the view that a programme offering £20,000 incentives for trainees in underdoctored areas will lead to a long-term rise in the workforce in those areas.

GP workforce

Two fifths of male GPs are aged 50 years or above, the report adds, and the rate at which this cohort leave the NHS could be accelerated by changes to pension rules. Meanwhile, numbers of women - who are more likely to work part-time - joining the profession are continuing to rise, meaning that 'the replacement number required is even greater', the report warns.

The report also highlights soaring pressure on GPs, with rising numbers of patients per full-time GP, morale at its lowest point since before the 2004 GP contract and stress at an all-time high.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted failing adequately to prioritise building the GP workforce in his time as health secretary, but set out plans to address the problem at this year's RCGP conference.

BMA leaders have urged the government to commit to a long-term plan to give general practice the resources it needs.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Medical examiners to scrutinise deaths in community settings

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask explains how the expansion of the medical examiner system...

Person receiving a COVID-19 booster

COVID-19 booster campaign to start on 5 September, NHS England says

The COVID-19 booster programme will begin in care homes and for housebound patients...

GP consulting room

Nine in ten GPs fear their practice will struggle to cope this winter

Nearly nine in ten GPs fear that their practice will struggle to cope this winter,...

BMA sign

BMA elects new deputy chair of England GP committee and chair of Scottish council

Dr David Wrigley has been elected as new deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee in...

UK money

Almost half of practices say income from private fees has fallen in past year

Almost half of GP practices have seen their income from private and professional...

COVID-19 vaccination centre

BMA raises 'serious concerns' about GP workload and funding for autumn COVID boosters

The BMA has raised 'serious concerns' about the workload implications of this autumn's...