Intended for healthcare professionals


UK academic general practice and primary care

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 31 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4164

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. John Campbell, chair, heads of departments of general practice and primary care1,
  2. F D Richard Hobbs, director 2,
  3. Bill Irish, chair 3,
  4. Sandra Nicholson, cochair, heads of teaching group1,
  5. Mike Pringle, president4,
  6. Joanne Reeve, chair1,
  7. Joe Rosenthal, cochair, heads of teaching group 1
  1. 1Society for Academic Primary Care, UK
  2. 2NIHR School for Primary Care Research, Oxford, UK
  3. 3Committee of General Practice Education Directors, London, UK
  4. 4Royal College of General Practitioners, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Campbell john.campbell{at}

Visible? Viable? Invaluable

The report of Higher Education England’s commission on the primary care workforce is timely and welcome.1 The UK has led the way in delivering high quality, effective, accessible, and equitable healthcare at modest cost.2 Getting the right workforce to deliver the strongest possible NHS primary care focus3 is critically important in times of financial constraint, healthcare innovation, and the changing population demographic characterised by complex care needs and multimorbidity. But in parallel, attention must be given to the importance of recruiting, retaining, and developing the primary care academic workforce—an agenda that was beyond the remit of the commission.

The UK’s 205 senior academic GPs comprise just 6.5% of all clinical academics, and a tiny fraction of the 64 923 GPs currently registered with the General Medical Council (32 628 established GP full time equivalents). The overall increase in GP academic capacity from 153 full time equivalents in 2000 to 205 in 2014 has been almost exclusively the result of an increase in the numbers of GP professors from 33 to 78; the static number of GP lecturer posts (40) …

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