GP workforce declines by over 400 in just three months

The number of full-time equivalent GPs dropped by 1.3% in the last three months of 2016, new workforce figures reveal.

Official data from NHS Digital, published today, show a decline of 445 FTE GPs, including registrars, locums and retainers, between 30 September and 31 December, from 34,495 to 34,050.

Headcount fell by 0.9% in the same time period, a decrease of 390, to a total of 41,475. Excluding registrars, locums and retainers, FTE GP numbers fell by 1.1% (323 FTE GPs), from 28,458 to 28,135.

There was a 0.8% decrease in headcount numbers, of 287, when excluding these staff groups, to 34,549, in the three-month period.

The statistics, which are billed ‘experimental’, come despite Government efforts to grow the overall GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020.

This has included the ’10-point plan’ to boost recruitment and retention drawn up in January 2015, and comes despite HEE reporting a record number of doctors opting for GP training in 2016/17.

When the overhauled methodology for counting GPs was first reported, in April 2016, it showed a 2% decrease in GP numbers from September 2014 to September 2015.

And last year, the numbers fell by 0.3% (95 GP FTEs) from September 2015 to 2016.

The annual comparison in September should represent the high point for GP recruitment as it includes the largest intake of new GP trainees as well as newly qualified GPs.

Full story in Pulse, 29 March 2017