Latest workforce figures ‘reflect the harsh reality’ of working in NHS general practice

Publication date: 29 August 2019

Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the latest GP workforce figures released by NHS Digital earlier today.

He said: “The number of fully-qualified GPs leaving the profession is concerning and reflects the harsh reality of what it’s like for family doctors working in NHS general practice, facing intense resource and workforce pressures on a daily basis.


“Recruitment efforts over recent years have been significant – and it is testament to this important work that we have more GPs in training than ever before, and this needs to be redoubled. But the number of full-time-equivalent, fully-qualified GPs is falling and at a rising pace, so we desperately need to see more funding for the roll out of retention schemes across the country, if we have any chance of turning this situation around.


“Demand for GP services is escalating both in terms of volume and complexity. Paired with falling workforce numbers, it creates a perfect storm that is leaving GPs stressed, burnt out, and leaving the profession earlier than planned – and our patients waiting much longer for an appointment than they should have to.


“General practice is a vibrant, diverse profession, and is great that more junior doctors are joining us in delivering care to more than a million patients a day across the UK – and in turn keeping the NHS sustainable. We need to make it as attractive for existing GPs, so they can have long, sustainable career in the NHS, both delivering patient care, and mentoring the next generation of general practitioners.


“We remain optimistic about the future of general practice: the financial commitment to primary and community care in the NHS long-term plan in England, the recent GP contract that promises funding will get to the frontline, and pledges to ensure greater investment in technology are all a part of making sure that the NHS is sustainable for the future.


“But the decline in GP numbers cannot be ignored, and we urgently need to see further details of concrete measures to retain more GPs in the forthcoming People Plan, including tackling soaring workload, and resources increased to make the working environment more supportive, as a matter of urgency.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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