GPs struggling to find jobs while patients are ‘crying out’ for appointments, says College

Six out of 10 job-seeking GPs have struggled to find a vacancy to apply for over the past year – at the same time as GP workloads are at an all-time high and millions of patients are waiting for appointments.

The shocking statistic comes from the latest poll of members of the Royal College of GPs - the UK’s largest Medical Royal College representing over 54,000 family doctors.

According to the survey*, 61% of respondents who had looked for a GP role in the NHS over the past year found it ‘moderately difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to find an appropriate vacancy to apply for, rising to 72% amongst GPs in training.

Yet latest NHS workforce data shows the average number of patients per fully qualified GP is now 2,294 and rising - meaning each GP is, on average, responsible for 198 more patients than they were five years ago.*

With the General Election only weeks away, RCGP Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne, is calling on all political parties to remedy the ‘scandal’ of GPs struggling to find work when practices are being stretched to their limits and patients are desperate for GP appointments.

The number of long-term vacancies has decreased significantly over the last few years. In 2022, 44% of GPs said they had at least one vacancy which had been open for more than 3 months at their practice, compared to just 22% in 2024.*

The RCGP is pointing to the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) as a key factor, the scheme has directed funding towards other roles in general practice - such as clinical pharmacists, Physician Associates and physiotherapists –and not to GPs.

The College wants the money in the scheme to be made available to allow practices the flexibility to plan their own staffing requirements and to recruit the GPs they need. It is also calling on all the political parties fighting the election on 4 July to commit to a significant increase in investment to halt the crisis in general practice and get it ‘back on track’.

Professor Hawthorne said: "It is staggering to see our members say they are struggling to find jobs when general practice is overworked, overwhelmed and in desperate need of more GPs. Patients are crying out for appointments because we don’t have enough GPs to care for them, so it’s a scandal that newly qualified GPs are unable to find work.

“We potentially have a situation where hundreds of newly qualified GPs will be unemployed come August, with those on temporary visas being forced to leave the UK, should they not be able to secure employment.

“With the cost of training a GP estimated to be over £200K, we need urgent action to put this right – not only for those newly qualified GPs who have had 10 years of hard slog to qualify, but for the sake of existing GPs who are being stretched to their limits and for our patients who are desperate to see their GP but are facing longer and longer waits.

“If something isn’t done soon, our brilliant medical students will be deterred from going into GP training because they think they won’t be able to get a job at the end of it, and this will have an even greater impact on patient care in years to come.

“While there may be a range of reasons why GPs are unable to find work, at the heart of this crisis is the chronic underfunding and poor workforce planning that have plagued general practice for decades now.  The core practice contract financial uplift announced in March was just 1.9% - which amounted to a real terms funding cut*.

She added: “The ARRS scheme was set up in 2019 with positive intentions to help with the escalating workloads in general practice, but because funding is only provided for other members of the practice team and not GPs, cash strapped practices are being pushed to take on more of these roles when what they really need first and foremost is more fully qualified GPs.

“As the results of our survey today show, schemes like this are now proving counterproductive and leaving GPs without jobs and, in some cases, forcing them to leave the profession altogether or look for opportunities overseas, which is a great loss to the UK.

“Members of the wider practice team are valuable and can help to expand the services available to patients, but they aren’t substitutes for the key specialist skills and expertise GPs provide and they can’t be used to plug gaps in the GP workforce. The College has been calling for the funds set aside for other roles to be freed up to allow practices to recruit more GPs – and we need urgent action by the next government to provide practices with the funding they need to increase the number of GP roles.

“We shouldn’t have to be scrabbling around for piecemeal funding. With the election so close, all parties must commit to substantially increasing the funding for general practice to sort out this mess and get general practice back on track.

"General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, but it has reached crisis point. Additional funding is just one of the seven solutions set out in our own General Election manifesto to ensure that general practice has a future and that there are enough GPs to give patients the care they deserve.

“All political parties need to listen to us because if general practice collapses, the rest of the NHS won’t be far behind, and it’s our patients who will bear the brunt.”  

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

Data sources:  

  • The GP Voice survey reflects the views of over 2,000 members of the RCGP across the UK and was in field between 13 May and 10 June
    • 737 respondents had looked for a new role, 449 found it moderately or very difficult to find an appropriate vacancy, including 124 GPs in training
  • NHSE Workforce data, comparing April 2024 to March 2019
  • Vacancy data is compared to RCGP’s 2022 survey of 1,095 GPs across the UK
  • Tackling-the-cost-of-attrition-uks-health-services.pdf (
  • Compared with CPI (the agreed measure used for the 2019-24 GP contract investment framework)

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 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.