Last reviewed 12 January 2022

Latest GP workforce data have shown the number of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs in England is continuing to drop.

According to NHS Digital figures, here, there were 27,647 fully-qualified FTE GPs in November 2021, which has dropped by 52 from 27,699 in September 2021.

The data show in the six months between June and November, over 100 fully-qualified FTE GPs were lost. The total number of FTE GPs dropped by 284 from 36,275 in September to 35,991 in November 2021.

Between September and November 2021, the headcount of GP partners decreased by 154, while the headcount of salaried GPs increased by 164.

The headcount of GPs in training also decreased by 221 over the quarter, and the headcount of GP regular locums was down by 155.

Responding to November’s figures, British Medical Association (BMA) GP Committee England Deputy Chair Dr Kieran Sharrock said, here, that the loss of family doctors in the last year was equivalent to more than 700,000 patients losing their GP.

He said: “Since September 2015, when the Government first pledged to recruit an additional 5000 GPs, England has lost the equivalent of more than 1750 full-time, fully qualified family doctors, with more than 300 being lost in the last year alone.

“This means the remaining GPs are now on average caring for 2222 patients–this is around 300 more than they were in 2015, and is significantly more than GPs in similar countries.”

He added that in November practices in England booked a record 34.6 million appointments, “enough appointments to cover over half the population of England in a single month”.

The BMA warned that doing more with fewer staff was not safe and not sustainable.

In June 2021, NHS Digital changed the methodology and frequency of how they release their GP workforce data, no longer including data estimates for practices that uploaded no or partial workforce data. It also removed the historical way of showing data. The BMA believes this does not reflect the most accurate story.