Parts of England must nearly double GP numbers in five years, says RCGP

Parts of England need an increase of more than 80% in GP numbers over the next five years, according to the RCGP.

Dr Maureen Baker: GP workforce warning (Photo: RCGP)
Dr Maureen Baker: GP workforce warning (Photo: RCGP)

A new league table of GP shortages produced by the college revealed the areas hardest hit by shortages caused by the growing population and lack of doctors.

The college said the research shows England needs 8,000 new full-time equivalent GPs by 2020.

Worst affected is Redbridge, east London, which needs an increase of 85% and Swale, Kent which requires a 74% increase.

Shortage of doctors

The college said 16 areas, including parts of Kent, Yorkshire, Essex, Berkshire and the Midlands, need at least a 50% increase in GPs numbers to cope with population changes and shortages of doctors.

Ten areas were identified as requiring the greatest increase in actual numbers of doctors. Top of the table was Nene, Northamptonshire, which needs 165 GPs, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which will need 132.

According to the RCGP, the following areas will need the greatest increase in GPs in terms of percentage uplifts:

  • Bexley will need an uplift of 87% (83 additional full time equivalent GPs)
  • Redbridge will need an uplift of 85% (106 additional FTE GPs)
  • Swale will need an uplift of 74% (36 additional FTE GPs)
  • Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley will need an uplift of 67% (76 additional FTE GPs)
  • North Kirklees will need an uplift of 60% (52 additional FTE GPs)
  • Slough will need an uplift of 59% (41 additional FTE GPs)
  • Warrington will need an uplift of 57% (55 additional FTE GPs)
  • Corby will need an uplift of 57% (18 additional FTE GPs)
  • Luton will need an uplift of 56% (58 additional FTE GPs)
  • Barking and Dagenham will need an uplift of 56% (56 additional FTE GPs)

The following 10 areas will need the greatest increase in GPs in terms of actual numbers:

  • Nene will need 165 additional FTE GPs (an uplift of 55%)
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will need 132 additional full time equivalent GPs (an uplift of 26%)
  • East and North Hertfordshire will need 126 additional FTE GPs (an uplift of 44%)
  • Birmingham Crosscity will need 122 additional full time equivalent GPs (an uplift of 29%)
  • West Kent will need 114 additional FTE GPs (an uplift of 48%)
  • West Hampshire will need 109 additional FTD GPs (an uplift of 37%)
  • Herts Valleys will need 108 additional FTE GPs (an uplift of 33%)
  • Redbridge will need 106 additional FTE GPs (an uplift of 85%)
  • Dorset will need 105 additional full time equivalent GPs (an uplift of 23%)
  • Gloucestershire will need 105 additional full time equivalent GPs (an uplift of 31%)

College chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We have only once chance to deliver 8,000 GPs over the course of the next parliament. The 10-point workforce plan recently launched by NHS England and Health Education England gives us a real opportunity to build up the GP workforce that the nation needs and it is vital that politicians and our partner organisations work with us to make this happen.

‘Only through properly resourcing and supporting general practice can we ensure that patients receive the care that they want and need in the community.

Excellent GP services

‘Our patients deserve access to excellent GP care and services wherever in the country they live. Today’s figures show how critical it is to act now if we are to have enough GPs to meet all our patients’ needs over the next five years.

‘It is vital to ensure that patients can see a GP when they need one. We need to recruit and retain far more family doctors and practice nurses so that we can go on providing high-quality care and services in local communities. We also need to make it easier for trained GPs to return to general practice after a career break.

‘We have already heard pledges of more GPs from the main political parties – and this really brings home why this is so necessary and why these promises need to convert into tangible results, including more GPs and practice staff, sooner rather than later. 

‘The fact that this debate in parliament is happening is further evidence that through our 'Put patients first: Back general practice' campaign we are getting our message across – and that politicians and decision-makers are recognising the terrible situation that GPs have been dealing with for too long.'

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