Sarah Wollaston: Number of GP practices falls to record low as winter crisis approaches


The number of GP practices has fallen to a new record low of 6,867 while the number of qualified GPs has dropped by 339, NHS figures published today have revealed.

The Liberal Democrats have warned that the Conservative Party's failure to meet its promise to address the shortfall in GPs has left the country poorly equipped to deal with the upcoming winter crisis.

Today's statistics for September 2019 reveal:

  • The number of GP practices in England has fallen to 6,867, a decrease of 270 (3.8%) compared to the previous year and the lowest number since records began in 1995.
     
  • The number of full-time equivalent GPs in England fell to 28,315 in September 2019, down 339 (1.2%) compared to the previous year.
     
  • The amount of GP time available per patient in England has dropped by almost 10% over the past four years, from 60.5 minutes a year in 2015 to just 55.2 a minutes a year in 2019.

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, then health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised an extra 5,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs by 2020/21. 

Liberal Democrat candidate for Totnes and former GP Sarah Wollaston said:

 “People across the country struggling to get appointments will be appalled to see the number of GPs and practices continuing to fall. The Conservatives have completely failed to keep their promise to increase the number of GPs and have now plucked an even greater number out of the air."

"People depend on GP practices for their front-line care. Both patients and the primary care workforce have been badly let down by this government and the situation in General Practice will make for a very difficult winter across the NHS."

"People deserve better. The Liberal Democrats would properly invest in our NHS, reverse the damaging impact of under-investment in primary care and build a brighter future. We have a credible plan to increase the number of GPs and invest in social care, so we can take the pressure off our overstretched hospitals and A&E departments.”


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