The NHS has lost nearly 700 general practitioners in the last three years, despite a government promise to rent 5,000 more.
28,697 fully qualified general practitioners now work in England, a decrease of 29,379 in 2016. The figure is also 441 fewer than last year.
The promise made by Theresa May and former Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, four years ago is on track to fail, and current health secretary, Matt Hancock, has already admitted that it can take another five years to achieve this.
Health employers have launched desperate offers to pay foreign doctors to become members of the NHS or to raise the pensions of existing GPs to persuade them not to leave.
Experts said the decreasing number was a & # 39; crisis & # 39; in doctor's practices and that general practitioners are under & # 39; enormous pressure & # 39; and & # 39; fought a lost battle & # 39 ;.
NHS figures reveal that the workforce has increased in recent years in general practice, but doctors have declined in the last three years despite a government promise
NHS Digital today released statistics that uncover the workforce in general practice across the country.
The health service said there are now 7,302 more full-time equivalents of GP staff than there were three years ago.
And in the past year the number of general practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and other practice staff has increased.
There were 312 more doctors in March 2019 than in March 2018, along with 287 more pharmacists and 313 more nurses.
Although the number of fully qualified general practitioners increased between December 2018 and March 2019 – from 28,596 to 28,967 – the trend in the longer term remains paler.
March saw the first increase since December 2017 and since March 2016 – the first year after the government's five-year promise – the number of general practitioners has fallen by 682.
Labor's Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “These figures point to the ongoing primary care crisis, and come after years of the most serious funding squeeze in the history of the NHS among conservatives.
& # 39; Our GPs are overworked and have experienced too few resources and a lot of burnout. & # 39;
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “We have worked hard to encourage recruitment in general practice and as a result we have more general practitioners in training than ever before. But it takes at least 10 years to train a doctor to go to medical school, and we now need more doctors.
& # 39; If more general practitioners leave the profession than enter, we fight a lost battle. & # 39;
HOW DOES THE NHS TRY MORE DOCTORS?
- Health service revealed last year that doctors working in Australia would receive a £ 18,500 bonus if they move to the UK to work for the NHS. A recruitment campaign allegedly tried to persuade doctors to move to the land of Harry Potter, Manchester United and William Shakespeare.
- NHS has set up a plan to recruit 2,000 GPs from abroad by encouraging doctors in other countries to register for work in the NHS. But only 34 were recruited between 2015 and February this year.
- Trainee general practitioners offered a £ 20 gold & # 39; gold hello & # 39; bonus of taking a job in hard-to-fill jobs. Young doctors must commit to work for at least three years in areas with conspicuous deficits, including Hull, Plymouth, Lancaster and rural parts of County Durham and North Yorkshire.
- Matt Hancock suggested raising the tax-free pension ceiling to try and persuade more existing GPs to continue working until the 1960s. Currently, doctors have to pay taxes on retirement savings in excess of £ 1 million, but this amount could be increased .
She added: & # 39; The government promised in the GP Forward View that by 2020 we would see 5,000 additional GPs, as well as 5,000 more members of the wider practice team.
& # 39; While the latter has been exceeded, and it is imperative that we maintain this momentum, the number of GPs that we are desperately short of and without resolving it, we will have difficulty continuing to provide world-class care that our patients expect and deserve.
& # 39; Being a doctor can be the best job in the world – it is intellectually stimulating, hugely varied and rewarding – but we need to make it a more attractive career opportunity for those who, because of the crowds, feel disappointed, as well as doctors who have have decided to leave. & # 39;
The NHS figures quoted above do not include registrars who work as a general practitioner but still train and are not fully qualified to practice without supervision.
In an interview with GP magazine Pulse, Mr. Hancock said in January that the recruitment drive to train and hire more GPs went pretty well & # 39;
He said: & # 39; It is clear that its timing will be slower than originally foreseen. But what matters is making sure we get that figure. & # 39;
And he added: & # 39; We didn't specify a date on it. We just keep going. & # 39;
The NHS also promised in its future plan to increase funding for GP practices at least £ 2.4 billion a year higher by 2020/21.
But a struggle to recruit more general practitioners translates to more patients per physician, which means that doctors are confronted with greater workloads and patients with longer waiting times.
Responding to today's figures, Dr. Richard Vautrey of the British Medical Association said that a recent rise in overall GP figures was not nearly sufficient & # 39 ;.
He said: & # 39; The steady increase in patient demand combined with hundreds of less full-time equivalent GPs means that practices across the country are under enormous pressure and too many patients wait too long to see their doctor & # 39;
Practice list sizes have risen by about 50 percent since 2004 from an average of 5,891 to 8,490 in December 2018.
The NHS data also shows that seven general practices in England are now listed with more than 50,000 patients in their books.
Just over 50 practices have more than 30,000 patients and 2,214 have more than 10,000 patients.
Dr. Nikki Kanani, NHS England medical director for primary care and a London GP said: & although the GP figures show some encouraging signs, recruiting, retaining and supporting more doctors remains an absolute priority for us.
& # 39; Today's figures emphasize the good work done locally to support GPs through retention schedules and flexible work, and by hiring more trainees.
& # 39; A significant increase in the number of other health professionals, such as nurses, pharmacists, and physicians working alongside GPs, means that patients have faster and appropriate access to a wider range of highly trained staff.
& # 39; This helps GPs to focus on patients with the most complex conditions and relieves the pressure on the workload that our GPs are confronted with. & # 39;
MORE THAN 700 GP SURGEONS WOULD BE CLOSED IN 2023
More than 2.5 million patients across England were able to complete their GP practices in the next five years, experts revealed in November.
The Royal College of General Practitioners said that 762 practices in the UK are at risk of being closed within the next five years because at least three-quarters of their doctors are 55 or older and are about to retire.
Experts said that so many closures have a & # 39; catastrophic & # 39; impact on health care.
The waiting times for appointments can become even longer, the workload will increase and more people can stand in line at A&E for less serious illnesses.
Campaigners warned that possible closures & # 39; dangerous & # 39; would be for patients and advocate & # 39; drastic measures & # 39; to encourage new GPs to join the profession.
The situation is worst in Southend in Essex, where 13 out of 35 area practices are at risk of being closed, potentially affecting nearly 39,000 patients.
A third of operations in the Havering district of London could stop and more than 85,000 patients could lose their GP in Sandwell and West Birmingham.
According to the RCGP estimates, only about a quarter of the areas in England have no practices at risk of being closed.
Figures from the Royal College of General Practitioners have revealed that 762 general practice practices in the UK are likely to be closed in the next five years (map shows the number of operations in each area that is likely to be closed)
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