Figures from NHS Digital have revealed that the NHS in England has lost 576 full-time equivalent, fully-qualified GPs over the past 12 months.

The drop suggests that a decline in GP numbers has accelerated. In June 2019 there were 28,257 full-time equivalent (FTE) fully-qualified GPs working in England, 2% below the figure a year earlier. Over the three months from March to June 2019 alone, the FTE fully-qualified GP workforce declined by 440 doctors; similar to the fall in the GP workforce for the whole year to March 2019.

This means that Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's pledge in September 2015, to increase the NHS workforce by 5000 FTE GPs, is still far from being achieved. Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised earlier this year to set a new deadline for delivering the increase after dropping his predecessor's promise that it would happen by 2020/21.

Numbers of GP partners also continued to fall sharply with a drop of more than 1000 FTE partners in the year to June 2019 alone.

British Medical Association (BMA) General Practitioners Committee (GPC) Executive Team Member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said the data illustrated "the workforce crisis that continues to blight general practice".

He added: "In the face of high workloads, punitive pension regulations and the overly burdensome admin that comes with running a practice, it is no surprise that the number of GPs, and in particular partners, is continuing to fall. This is despite repeated pledges from the government to boost numbers by thousands."

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson responded: "GPs are the bedrock of the NHS and we’re backing them with an extra £4.5 billion a year by 2023/24. Last year a record 3473 doctors were recruited into GP training and we’re funding 20,000 more staff in GP practices."

Last reviewed 3 September 2019