Which parts of England are facing a GP retirement timebomb?

In parts of England more than 40% of the GP workforce in permanent roles is aged 55 years or over - leaving these areas facing a retirement timebomb. GPonline looks at which CCGs are most at risk.

GP workforce (Photo: sturti/Getty Images)
GP workforce (Photo: sturti/Getty Images)

Across England as a whole, 23.6% of the full-time equivalent (FTE) GP workforce in so-called 'substantive' roles - permanent partnership or salaried positions - is aged 55 or over. Although GPs often work on well beyond this age, with around 4% of the FTE permanent workforce aged over 65, evidence suggests most will not remain in the profession for long.

A huge BMA poll in 2015 - which received responses from more than 15,000 GPs - found that around 80% of those aged 55 or over planned to retire within five years.

And in five of England's 191 CCGs, GPs aged 55 or over represent more than 40% of the full-time equivalent (FTE) workforce in permanent roles. In 19 CCGs - one in 10 across the country - more than a third of the FTE permanent workforce is in this age group.

Despite rising dependence on locum doctors in general practice, partners and salaried GPs continue to make up the bulk of the fully-qualified FTE GP workforce in England according to NHS Digital figures - around 95%. As a result, the potential imminent loss of older GPs poses an existential threat to general practice - particularly as efforts to boost the overall workforce continue to stall.

A further factor that makes this looming risk an even greater concern is that some areas where a high proportion of the FTE permanent GP workforce is over 55 already have significant shortages of GPs overall.

Analysis by GPonline shows that Thanet CCG, in Kent, and Hull CCG are both in the top 10 CCGs with the highest proportion of FTE GPs in permanent roles aged over 55, and among the 10 CCGs in England with the most patients per GP. Swale CCG - also in Kent - along with Essex's Thurrock CCG and NHS Barking and Dagenham CCG also have extremely high numbers of patients per GP and an ageing workforce.

Find out with the map below which CCG areas face the highest risk from an ageing GP workforce.

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