The Liberal Democrats have warned that the government’s promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs “lies in tatters,” after figures showed the number of GPs remains below that in September 2015.
The number of full-time equivalent GPs reached 34,242 in June this year, provisional figures from NHS Digital have shown.
The figure is a small increase of 321 (0.9%) since March 2017. However it remains 350 below the number in September 2015.
The government’s promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 lies in tatters, with fewer GPs now than when this pledge was first made.
The pitiful increase we have seen in recent months is nowhere near enough to cope with rising patient demand.
This failure to recruit enough doctors will inevitably have a damaging impact on the ability of patients to access the healthcare they need.
We are already close to breaking point, with people in many parts of the country struggling to get appointments with their GP.
More doctors are urgently needed to guarantee a fully-staffed NHS that provides everyone with the care they need.
The Lib Dems want promote easier access to GPs by expanding evening and weekend opening to meet the needs of local patients. We’d also encourage online, phone and Skype appointments, encourage GPs to work together in federations and allow patients more choice.