Changes to the general practice workforce

28 February 2019

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  • In contrast to the trend among GPs, the number of nurses and other direct patient care staff working in general practice has continued to rise. 
  • The overall number of nurses grew by 1.5%, 240 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, to 16,040 between September 2017 and September 2018. 
  • Most of this growth was in the number of advanced nurse practitioners (8.2%), nurse specialists and extended-role practice nurses. Practice nurses remained the largest group, although the number is down by 4.3% on their peak in September 2015.
  • Numbers of other direct patient care staff working (such as dispensers and health care assistants) have also risen, by 5.5% to 12,250 FTE. The number of pharmacists has grown substantially since September 2015, and paramedics are also growing rapidly in number, from just 60 FTE in September 2016 to 360 FTE.

In contrast to the trend among GPs, the number of nurses and other direct patient care staff working in general practice has continued to rise.

In our February 2019 report, A critical moment, we note that the overall number of nurses grew by 1.5% (240 FTE) to 16,040 between September 2017 and September 2018. Most of this growth was in the number of advanced nurse practitioners (rise of 8.2% since September 2017 to 3,300 FTE), nurse specialists and extended-role practice nurses. Practice nurses remained the single-largest group (11,320 FTE) in September 2018, although their number was down by 4.3% on their peak in September 2015. Research nurses were collected separately in September 2015 but have since been added into practice nurses in this year to provide greater comparability with subsequent collections, as this job role is no longer separate from practice nurses.

Numbers of other direct patient care staff working in general practice (such as dispensers, pharmacists, phlebotomists and health care assistants) have also risen, by 5.5% to 12,250 FTE over the year to the end of September 2018. Most of these staff are health care assistants (6,730 FTE), dispensers (2,340 FTE), phlebotomists (710 FTE) and pharmacists (880 FTE).

This last group has grown substantially since September 2015, when there were only 170 FTE staff. Paramedics are also growing rapidly in number, from just 60 FTE in September 2016 to 360 FTE in September 2018. Figures on administrative and other non-clinical staff working in general practice show a rise of 2.7% to 65,300 FTE over the year to the end of September 2018.

Further reading

Research report

A critical moment

Our third annual report analysing the staff profile and trends in the NHS workforce in England in 2018.

Collection

Chart of the month

Data visualisation of today’s most intriguing health and health care trends

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