Hospital Dr News

GP numbers show first sustained drop for 50 years, analysis reveals

GP numbers are falling in the NHS, research suggests.

An analysis by the Nuffield Trust for the BBC shows the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year.

The last time numbers fell like this was 50 years ago and it comes at a time when the demands on GPs are rising.

In 2015, the Conservative Government pledged – in its election campaign – to increase the number of doctors working in general practice by 5,000 by 2020.

There are just over 42,000 GPs working currently, down by nearly 1,500 in four years.

However, NHS bosses maintain that more GPs are being trained and extra support staff recruited to work alongside them.

Patient groups said GP shortages are causing real difficulties for people making appointments.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, president of the Royal College of GPs, said: “General practice cannot be allowed to fail. It is an absolute cornerstone of the NHS.”

The Nuffield Trust analysis looked at the number of GPs working in the NHS – both full and part-time – per 100,000 people across the UK.

It shows that during the late 1960s the numbers were falling, before four decades of almost continuous growth.

A peak of 66.5 was reached in 2009, before the increases tailed off.

There have now been four consecutive years of falls with the biggest drops being seen in England.

Wales and Scotland are down slightly, but Northern Ireland has seen a rise.

The fall in GPs from 64.9 per 100,000 to 60 per 100,000 means the average doctor now has 125 more patients to look after than they did in 2014.

The Nuffield Trust believes another 3,500 GPs would be needed to get the NHS back to where it was in 2014.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, commented: “Family doctors are under intense pressure to meet rising demand from a growing population, many of whom are elderly and living with increasingly complex conditions, and in many cases, workload has become unmanageable, leading doctors to reduce their hours or retire.

“As more doctors leave the profession, the workload gets heavier still for those left behind, and the situation gets far more serious for both patients and staff.

“Add to this punitive and confusing pension regulation that punish doctors who take on more work, we have seen a perfect storm brewing for the GP workforce.”

On the positive side, numbers of trainees in general practice has increased – though the dropout rate remains high.

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation