We need to be realistic – training new GPs takes time, services are already under immense strain and face rising demand Health Foundation response to Conservative party’s pledge to improve primary care access

9 November 2019

Responding to the Conservative party’s plan to create more appointments in GP surgeries, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:

‘The NHS desperately needs more GPs, so acknowledgment of this is welcome. But England has so far struggled to meet the 2016 commitment of an additional 5,000 GPs by 2020, with the number of qualified permanent GPs falling in recent years and list sizes rising. This reflects problems with both recruitment of new GPs and retention of existing doctors.

‘Workforce shortages disproportionately affect the most deprived parts of the country - on average, a GP working in the most deprived areas can expect to be responsible for 370 more patients than a GP working in the least deprived. While additional funding and the focus on recruiting wider primary care staff is needed, it is not clear what new measures the Conservatives are proposing.

‘We need to be realistic - training new GPs takes time, services are already under immense strain and face rising demand. Translating extra funding into the millions of extra appointments promised will be hard and it’s not clear how staffing gaps in the poorest areas will be addressed.’

Media contact

Sam Fletcher
07791 044 564

Further reading

Research report

Closing the gap

March 2019

Staffing is the make-or-break issue for the NHS in England. This report sets out a series of policy...

Research report

A critical moment

February 2019

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

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