New evidence of soaring practice workload

Source: Practice Index 14.2.23

Qualified GPs are now, on average, responsible for 14% more patients than seven years ago, according to a new analysis.

GP leaders said the data, obtained from the House of Commons library, was the latest to show the huge growth in pressure on practices.

The new analysis has been undertaken by the Liberal Democrats, who report that the number of fully qualified GPs has fallen by 7% since 2016 in England. The number of patients registered with practices has increased by 7% to 62 million,

In one district, Blackburn with Darwen, the number of patients per fully qualified GP has increased by 25% in that period, reaching 2,915. In Hull the number stands at 2,805.

In Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, where Health Secretary Steve Barclay is an MP, the number has increased by 20%.

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne told the London Evening Standard that it “shows yet again how GPs and our teams are working above and beyond to deliver care to an ever-growing patient population, with falling numbers of fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs”.

She added: “Patients and GP teams deserve better. This is why the college is calling on government to implement a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged in its election manifesto, including initiatives to attract GPs to work in under doctored areas, where our services are often most needed.

“Funding for general practice must also be returned to 11% of the total health spend, and better investment in our IT systems and premises is needed, alongside steps to cut bureaucracy so that we have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: “Communities across the country are seeing ever falling numbers of GPs treating ever growing numbers of patients, in a stark postcode lottery. It is creating a perfect storm that means for many people, it feels almost impossible to see your GP when you need to.”

She added: “This ever-worsening GP shortage is having a terrible human cost, as people face delayed or missed diagnoses and A&Es fill up with desperate patients looking for treatment.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said the number of GP appointments has also increased.

The spokesperson said: “We are working with NHS England and Health Education England to grow the GP workforce by boosting recruitment, addressing the reasons why doctors leave the profession, and encouraging them to return to practice.

“We also have an ongoing recruitment scheme which has attracted hundreds of doctors to train in hard to recruit locations, with 550 training places in 2021 and 800 last year.”

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