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GP numbers in England fell by more than 600 in past year, data show

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3366 (Published 28 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3366
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMA

The BMA has called for better support for general practice ahead of a potential second wave of covid-19, after figures showed a fall in the number of full time equivalent (FTE) GPs in the past year.

Data published by NHS Digital on 27 August1 showed that, from June 2019 to June 2020, the number of fully qualified FTE GPs fell by 651 (2.3%), from 28 256 to 27 605. Over the same period the number of FTE GPs, excluding locums but including registrars, fell by 1.4%, from 32 798 to 32 344.

Commenting on the figures, Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s general practitioners committee, said that the continued decline in the number of FTE GPs in England was of serious concern but not a surprise.

He said, “Before covid-19, GPs were contending with chronic underfunding, rising patient demand, and toppling workloads, all of which has been exacerbated by the virus, with many surgeries going above the call of duty to keep patients safe.

“This further drop of 1.4% [among] FTE GPs since March speaks for itself, and yet, despite the clear need to do more to attract and retain more GPs, the government have just undermined morale further by failing to use the DDRB [Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body] recommendations to recognise the incredible work GPs and their teams have done during the pandemic.”

Vautrey said that, as the country prepared for a second wave of covid-19, it was important for the government to value GPs and to ensure that general practice had the resources it needed for GPs to keep their patients safe and well.

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