Tory Promise to Increase GP Numbers Fails to Materialise

The Government has failed to keep their promise to increase the number of GPs by 5,000 within five years. Since 2015, the number has actually dropped by 1,425.

We shouldn’t be surprised that another Tory promise fails to materialise but you just can’t make promises like this around health care, fail, and then assume no-one will hold you to account.

In Oldham in 2017, there were 143 GPs, excluding locums and trainee doctors working across 44 practices. Today this is down to 140 GPs working across 39 practices, reflecting the national picture – fewer GPs and fewer surgeries since 2015. But in the same period, the number of patients registered with a practice in Oldham has increased from 246,039 to 262,400.

NHS Oldham has showed me figures of the increased GP workload in Oldham: in January 2022, compared to January 2020, GP appointments increased by 16% from 50,477 to 58,601.

So since 2015, the number of local GPs has fallen while demand has soared. Too many are burned out and retiring early. Some are also retiring early as the Government has failed to address the punitive pensions tax issues GPs and other doctors are facing. The result? Patient care is suffering.

In his 2019 general election campaign Boris Johnson made a new pledge saying he would increase the number of GPs in England by 6,000 by 2024.

Based on Mr Johnson’s record of making and then breaking promises, and that the Government refused to accept amendments in the Health and Care Bill on workforce planning, I won’t hold my breath.

I will be writing to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to ask once again about workforce plans for primary care including GPs and how the Government will be ‘levelling up’ both in GP numbers but also in their capital allocations to allow more GP surgeries and health centres to be developed.

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