More than 10,000 extra GPs are needed in the health service in England to catch up on existing shortfalls, according to a joint workforce statement issued this week.
The BMA’s General Practitioner Committee (GPC) and the Royal College of Practitioners (RCGP) say current targets for increasing the number of family doctors are nowhere near the levels needed to implement the NHS plan.
An extra 10,330 full-time GPs are needed in the medium to long term, it claims.
“England already has a vacancy rate approaching 3 per cent. Now the NHS plan raises expectations and identifies new work for general practice, but there are nowhere need enough GPs to deliver what is expected,” says Dr John Chisholm, the GPC’s chairman.
In the NHS plan published in July, the government promised an extra 2000 GPs by 2004.
The GPC-RCGP statement has spelt out the costs of the various NHS plan initiatives in terms of the numbers of GPs needed:
- An extra 3,000 GPs to deliver new measures for intermediate care for patients who are not well enough to go home but do not require hospital care,
- An extra 12,000 to deliver the specialist GP services envisaged in the NHS plan,
- Another 3,000 full-time GPs to implement national frameworks,
- Annual appraisals will require a minimum of a further 130 full-time GPs,
- Clinical governance issues including audits of care will take up the time of 3,000 GPs.
The long-term goal of 10,330 GPs means that more immediate action is required to support the existing workforce, according to the GPC-RCGP report. These measures include more training places, improved pay and allowances, recruitment incentives and flexible and family friendly working arrangements.
By Karen Higginbottom