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01.06.20

RCGP: GP workforce crisis still prevalent during pandemic

Following the release of the latest NHS Digital Workforce Statistics data, which showed another annual fall in the figures for full-time equivalent GPs practicing around the country, Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) Professor Martin Marshall expressed his concerns.

The figures showed 712 fewer fully-qualified full-time equivalent GPs (FTE GPs) in March compared with a year previous.

Professor Marshall said: “It’s very concerning to see the number of full-time equivalent GPs in the profession continues to fall.

“These figures show that while attention has been understandably focussed on the Covid-19 pandemic, workforce challenges have not gone away. This must be addressed – policy makers must not forget the promises that have been made for general practice, including 6,000 more FTE GPs, so that we can continue to deliver care to more than a million patients a day.

"Throughout the pandemic we've seen the goodwill of retired GPs returning to support the NHS and we would like to see initiatives introduced to retain these GPs post-pandemic, particularly those who retired early due to undoable workload. During the crisis we've seen that general practice functions well without so much bureaucracy, and if this in turn helps keep GPs in the profession then it’s something that should be considered in future plans.

READ MORE: RCGP: GP input will be vital to local level success

"With this in mind, we continue our call for urgent publication of a detailed People's Plan that outlines exactly how the government plans to build the GP workforce, including plans to retain existing GPs in the profession.

“Before the outbreak of Covid-19, the College worked hard to address the intense workforce and workload pressures general practice was facing – and the knock-on effects these were having on the wider NHS. GPs and our teams are the first point of call for the vast majority of patients and play an imperative role in keeping the rest of the NHS sustainable. This must be at the forefront of decision-makers' minds as post Covid-19 plans are developed.

"Rightly so, Covid-19 will continue to require attention and resources for the foreseeable future, and GPs and other healthcare professionals will have to balance this with providing care to patients with non-Covid-19 related health issues. It's imperative that the GP workforce has the capacity as well as resources to handle demands post-crisis."

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