GP workforce is not growing quickly enough to cope with current or future demand, BMA warns

Press release from the BMA

Published: Thursday 6 May 2021

Responding to the latest GP workforce data released today, Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team workforce lead, said: “With the equivalent of just 111 more full-time, fully-qualified GPs joining the health service between March 2020 and March 2021 – an increase of just 0.4% - today’s data is yet another stark reminder of the ongoing workforce crisis currently facing the NHS.
“In fact, the overall GP workforce has barely grown since 2015, and the number of GP partners has actually fallen by the equivalent of more than 900 full-time doctors in the most recent 12 months, so efforts to retain these experienced and talented members of staff should be treated with just as much importance as encouraging new GPs into the NHS.
“According to a recent BMA survey, more than half of respondents working in a primary care setting said that they plan to work fewer hours in the next year, with a further 36% deciding to leave the health service altogether and take early retirement.
“We know that much of this is linked to personal wellbeing - doctors across the NHS have been pushed to their limits this past year, with many struggling to get the respite they need following the demands of the pandemic. For some, this has led to them becoming unwell and feeling disillusioned with a job they once loved. Almost 50% of doctors respondents to our recent Covid-19 tracker survey told us they are currently suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress or another mental health condition.
“The bottom line is that the GP workforce is simply not growing quickly enough to cope with current or future demand – something the BMA has long been calling to be addressed, both recently and pre-pandemic. Former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, promised an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020/21, before the Conservatives pledged to find 6,000 by 2024. We know that that first promise was never fulfilled. The latest must be.
“Without the workforce we need, especially as we look to the growing backlog, the future of the NHS hangs in the balance – and patients will continue to wait too long for the care they need. It’s vital that Government understands this; not only by recruiting more staff, but also urgently doing everything possible to retain those we already have.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

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