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June 2018

New crisis looms in GP workforce

The number of GPs intending to quit direct patient care within the next five years has hit an all time high, according to a new study.

Close to four-out-of-ten GPs would like to leave the profession, with many saying they feel they can no longer ‘do the job justice’.

The news comes on the heels of the latest figures from NHS England that show that the number of full-time equivalent GPs has plummeted, despite the Government’s pledge to recruit 5,000 more by 2020.

The total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs was 27,773 as of March 2018, a decrease of 0.6% since December 2017. The total headcount for general practice nurses was 22,976 with a FTE figure of 15,889. This represents a modest increase over the figures for December 2017 – 105 more nurses in total, and just 42 more FTEs.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee said GPs and their teams faced ‘longer and longer days in clinic, exacerbated by a mountain of paperwork. This isn’t safe for GPs, our teams or our patients.

‘Although the number of training places has increased, this is not enough to address the dire recruitment and [retention] crisis.’

NHS England has announced a £10m fund to support and retain GPs. Some £7 million will be made available through regional-based schemes to help GPs to stay in the workforce, by promoting new ways of working and by offering additional support through a new Local GP Retention Fund.

A further £3 million will also be made available to establish seven intensive support sites across the country in areas that have struggled most to retain GPs. Details on these sites and plans for retention efforts there will be announced next month.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘General practice is in a tough place right now, and it’s essential we look after the hard working GPs in our profession, including those just starting out in their careers. [These] measures are really welcome, and we appreciate the focus on supporting local initiatives and areas that are finding it particularly difficult to retain GPs in the profession.’

June 2018