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Government meets primary care recruitment goal a year early but NHS says more needs to come

Almost 30,000 more primary care professionals are working in general practice compared to four years ago, the government has announced.

This means the government has met its manifesto pledge to recruit 26,000 extra primary care staff a year ahead of schedule.

The data from NHS England shows that, compared to March 2019, there are three-and-a-half times more dieticians, paramedics, physiotherapists and others working in GP practices. There were 11,500 staff in 2019 and now, as of March, there are 40,600.

Health secretary, Steve Barclay, said: “We have delivered on our promise a year early to recruit 26,000 extra primary care professionals which means more clinicians delivering better, more specialised and accessible care to patients.”

The news follows the recently published primary care recovery plan which outlined how the government is moving to make contacting GPs easier.

“Building on the primary care recovery plan, we are determined to end the 8am scramble, improve technology and reduce bureaucracy,” added Barclay.

Recent data also shows that March saw an additional two million appointments being delivered across general practice compared to the year prior – the equivalent of an 83,500 appointment hike for each working day.

The NHS Confederation, however, has warned that this needs to be just the start. The organisation’s director of primary care, Ruth Rankine, said the news was “ very welcome” but “against a backdrop of a decline in GP numbers and a continuing increase in demand, there is more work to be done in terms of staffing numbers and retention.”

“The forthcoming workforce plan must address how it will tackle GP numbers and lay out actions that will help keep the staff we do have,” added Rankine.

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