Patients per GP up 3% in a year as workforce slumps by over 440

General practice in England has lost more than 440 full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs in the past year alone - as numbers of patients grew almost 1m, official data show.

GP surgery sign
(Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

The FTE fully-qualified GP workforce slumped to 27,558 in June 2022, down from 28,000 a year earlier according to figures from NHS Digital.

The drop of 442 GPs represents a 2% drop in the GP workforce over the 12 months to June in the latest blow to the government's pledge to boost the workforce by 6,000 by 2024.

In the five years from June 2017 to June 2022, general practice has lost 1,554 FTE fully-qualified GPs - a drop of 5.3%, analysis by GPonline shows.

Over the year to June 2022, the number of registered patients in England grew from around 60.8m to 61.8m - taking the number of patients for each FTE fully qualified GP in the country to 2,241 - up from 2,173 a year earlier.

Rising numbers of patients alongside the continuing fall in GP numbers look set to deepen the workforce crisis facing general practice.

The profession delivered an unprecedented 367m appointments in 2021 - and has delivered 8% more appointments in the first six months of 2022 - excluding COVID-19 vaccination appointments - compared with the same period last year according to the latest data.

Growing pressure on general practice has led to warnings that England could face an 'exodus' of GPs over the coming years. An RCGP report earlier this year predicted that the NHS could lose as many as 19,000 GPs and GP trainees in the next five years.

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Reaction: General practice 'chronically overstretched and haemorrhaging doctors'

Analysis by GPonline earlier this year found that the mismatch between patients and GPs was growing fast in some parts of England - with a surge of up to 4% in patients per GP in some integrated care system areas in just the five months to June this year.

Meanwhile, numbers of GP partners have continued to decline rapidly, the latest figures show. England lost 367 FTE GP partners over the year to June 2022 - a 2% drop - and has lost a staggering 3,580 in the five years from June 2017 to June 2022 - 18% of the total at the start of the five-year period.

The total number of FTE GP partners in England in June 2022 was 16,826, compared with 20,406 five years earlier.

Salaried GP numbers have surged over the past five years, rising from 7,423 in June 2017 to 9,785 - reflecting a significant swing in the makeup of the general practice workforce over the period.

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