General practitioner England

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Number of full-time GPs falls

Krishna Kasaraneni -portrait - neutral
KASARANENI: Recruitment target way off

The number of GPs working full time in England has fallen – despite Government promises of a mass-recruitment campaign.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt had pledged to recruit 5,000 more GPs in the run up to the 2015 general election but, figures released today show the total number of stands at 34,500 – a decrease of 0.3 per cent.

Mr Hunt had described his pledge as ‘the biggest chance for more investment in a generation’.

Doctors leaders said it was not acceptable for the recruitment crisis in primary care to be allowed to continue.

BMA education, training and workforce GP lead Krishna Kasaraneni said: ‘These figures underline just how far we are from meeting the Government’s own target of recruiting and retaining more GPs as we near the one year anniversary of the GP Forward View in England.

'Despite the constant promises from ministers that the GP workforce would be increased by 5,000, the number of full-time GPs has fallen once again while the overall number has stagnated.

'While there have been encouraging increases in other healthcare professionals in general practice, what we really need are GPs who can deliver more appointments and other frontline services to meet rising patient demand.

‘There is also a great deal of uncertainty as Article 50 is triggered about the future status of doctors and other healthcare professionals from the EU.

'With almost half of the 10,000 EEA doctors working in the NHS considering leaving the UK because of the referendum result this could further reduce the number of GPs delivering care in the NHS.

‘The NHS is at breaking point and it is not acceptable for this recruitment and retention crisis to be allowed to get worse. It is time for the Government to act urgently to implement the GP Forward View with its pledge to deliver a long-term, sustainable plan for a well-resourced and appropriately staffed general practice.’

The figures, which are measured every September compare numbers from September 2016 to September 2015, and show a small increase in the number of consultants, hospital doctors in training, nurses, midwives, workers who provide support to clinical staff.

The biggest staff rises have come in the managers and senior managers category with year-on-year rises of 3.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively.

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