Editorials

Shortage of general practitioners in the NHS

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3191 (Published 10 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3191
  1. Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care
  1. Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, UK
  1. a.majeed{at}imperial.ac.uk

GPs are a scarce resource that must be deployed more wisely

Ensuring sufficient primary care doctors is a key challenge for health planners globally because of the important role that primary care plays in supporting cost effective health systems that promote equity in health outcomes. For example, the US is predicted to need 7800 to 32 000 additional primary care physicians by 2025.1 We know that the UK’s NHS is also short of general practitioners,2 but we do not know the size of the shortage or how many additional general practitioners it needs to provide comprehensive primary care services.

In its plan for general practice published in 2016, NHS England set a target of 5000 additional general practitioners by 2020.3 However, no data were presented to show that this would be enough to meet the country’s needs. An analysis from Imperial College suggests that NHS England has substantially underestimated the current shortage of general practitioners and the numbers required to plug the gap.4 It estimates …

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