The health secretary has deleted claims of a “terrific” increase of 1,000 GPs joining the NHS in just three months, after being censured by the government statistics watchdog.
Matt Hancock made the claim in a tweet last week and was widely criticised by doctors and health groups who said he was misleading the public, as the actual figures showed qualified doctor numbers fell.
Those figures were also drastically inflated by the new intake of junior doctors who started GP specialty training in August.
Even counting these doctors, who work under supervision but by third year are seeing patients largely unsupported, there were only an additional 41 doctors when compared to September 2017.
Martyn Williams was one of those to complain about the initial tweet and contacted the UKSA to ask them to review Mr Hancock’s claims and get a retraction.
In a response sent on Monday morning the watchdog said: “We have discussed this matter with the Secretary of State’s office, and they have removed the tweet.”
It is not clear when Mr Hancock removed the tweet and the Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment on two occasions when asked what numbers he was referring to in his claimed rise.
However Mr Williams said it was not acceptable that he had failed to set the record straight.
“It's really not good enough to silently delete such a misleading tweet. Matt Hancock should tweet an apology for the error and give people the real figures," he said.
In 2015 the government pledged to add an extra 5,000 doctors, including trainees, to the GP workforce by 2020 – based on the latest September data it still has 5,460 posts to go.
The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment
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