Hundreds of doctors and nurses are leaving GP surgeries with union leaders warning staff are being pushed to “breaking point.”
A total of 369 fully qualified GPs and 140 fully time practice nurses have left the profession since March 2021 as the government continues to fail against its target to recruit 6,000 more doctors by 2025.
NHS data also shows there were 30 million GP appointments in March, 4m higher than February and a 2m increase year-on-year.
According to the latest data the NHS has lost 1,600, fully-qualified, full-time equivalent GPs since 2015.
The news comes after MPs faced criticsim on Monday from healthcare leaders after they voted down proposed ammendments to the Health and Care Bill which would force them to publish regular workforce projections and plans.
Dr Kiran Sharrock, GP lead for the doctors union the British Medical Association said: “Last month appointments in England were up by 4 million - while GP numbers continued to spiral downwards. This is completely untenable for practices, for GPs and for patients.
“Compared with this time a year ago, England has the equivalent of 369 fewer full-time, fully qualified GPs – having lost 30 in the most recent month alone. This means each day there is one less doctor for patients to see.
“This trend, of demand rocketing while we haemorrhage doctors, is pushing the remaining staff to breaking point as they take on more and more each day, to a point which is not safe for them and certainly not safe for patients.”
“The whole healthcare system is under pressure like never before, with record waits for operations and procedures, meaning more patients waiting often in a huge deal of pain and seeking support from their practice.”
He said today’s figures demonstrate GP practice staff are going “above and beyond” and working these at these “unsafe” levels will drive more GPs away.
The union lead urged the government and policy makers to listen to the “alarm bells” from GPs.
Ruth Rankine, director of primary care at the NHS Confederation, said: “This data shows that primary care teams continue to work flat out to address increasing and more complex demand, seeing 17 per cent more patients in March than the previous month and back to pre-pandemic levels of activity.”
“It is testament to the perpetual hard work of all those working in primary care that more people’s needs are being met, including patients being supported as they wait for care from other parts of the NHS.”
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