The King's Fund comments on new GP workforce figures and NHS vacancy data

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Commenting on new GP workforce figures and NHS vacancy data out today from NHS Digital, Sally Warren, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund said:

'The volume and intensity of GP workloads is driving many to either reduce their hours or leave the profession altogether. While more GPs than ever are being trained, today’s figures show that GP numbers continue to decrease, with a 2 per cent drop in the number of permanent, full-time equivalent GPs in the past year and 6.2 per cent fewer in September 2019 than in 2015. 

‘All the major political parties have made eye-catching pledges to improve access to GP appointments by increasing the number of GPs, but the solution is not straightforward. Success will hinge not just on the ability to recruit and – more importantly – retain enough GPs, but also to bring in professionals such as physiotherapists and pharmacists. Equally important is investment in technology to develop models of digital care, in GP premises and to implement effective team-based models of care.

'Across the country, health and care services are grappling with severe staff shortages. Latest workforce data out today shows there are currently more than 105,000 vacancies in NHS trusts, plus 122,000 vacancies in social care at any one time. If the next government wants to deliver on promises to improve health and care services for patients and the public, they must first tackle the workforce crisis.'

Notes to editors

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Gemma Umali, Press and Public Affairs Manager, by telephone on 020 7307 2583 or by email at

The King’s Fund has recently published a new explainer as part of its general election work, on the possible solutions to the GP access problem.

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.