Recruitment & Retention Crisis

General Practice was already enduring a recruitment and retention crisis with falling numbers of GPs and nurses and record vacancies before the pandemic even began.

Latest figures show a loss of approximately 1800 full time equivalent GPs since 2015.

In November 2021, Health Secretary Sajid Javid admitted that the government would not meet its own target to recruit an additional 6000 GPs by 2025.

Dr Richard Vautrey, outgoing BMA GP committee chair, claimed Mr Javid’s admission that the Government was not on track is ‘long overdue’,  and it would not come as news to GPs or practice staff.

‘The bottom line is we are haemorrhaging doctors in general practice. Whilst more younger doctors may be choosing to enter general practice, even more experienced GPs are leaving the profession or reducing their hours to manage unsustainable workloads.’

Dr Richard Vautrey

A recent survey of RCGP members indicated that 8% planned to leave the profession in the next year, rising to 34% within the next five.

A major study published this summer indicated the number of practices with high GP turnover almost doubled from 14% in 2009, to 27% in 2019.

Responding to a recent publication of England’s GP workforce statistics, Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team member, said:

Today, we still have around 300 fewer full-time equivalent, fully-qualified GPs in England than we had a year ago, even with the extra 100 on last month shown in this new data. And since 2015, when ministers first began making promises about increasing GP numbers, England has lost the equivalent of more than 1,700 full-time, fully-qualified GPs. For those left, the average number of patients each GP is responsible for has increased by around 300 – or 15% – over the same period.

“Most notably, between September 2020 and the same month this year, more than 900 GP partners have quit or retired.

“While new doctors may be choosing general practice, this is not keeping up with the high numbers of GPs leaving or reducing their hours in the face of unsustainable, unsafe workloads and rising hostility against the profession. Meanwhile, confusing and damaging pension taxation rules that punish senior doctors for working more are a barrier to their ability to provide care to patients – something the Chancellor failed to address in the recent Spending Review.

“Rather than merely recognising that they are way behind their target, ministers must do something tangible about it and take meaningful steps to retain GPs who have spent the last 20 months going above and beyond in the face of the pandemic. They need to listen to and work with GPs on the ground to reach solutions that support family doctors – without doing so they risk losing far more and the situation for patients getting far, far worse.”