Around 12% of all GP posts in the UK are vacant, the highest proportion recorded, a Pulse survey has revealed.
The Pulse survey of 690 GPs has found that 11.7% of posts are currently vacant, up from 9.1% last year and 6.4% in 2014.
It also reveals that almost half of practices have had to recruit a partner within the past 12 months, taking longer than six months on average.
GP leaders told Pulse this is a major reason why practices are closing, while other GPs said they have had to recruit advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) as they are unable to recruit.
NHS England’s General Practice Forward View acknowledged the difficulties in recruitment, and committed more than £200m on a number of schemes, including recruitment of pharmacists, retention of GPs and training nurses, clerical staff and practice managers.
It comes as official figures have revealed there was a 2% drop in GP numbers last year, while a Pulse investigation has cast doubt on the Government’s pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020.
Pulse’s survey on vacancy rates is the most robust study on the issue, and has frequently been cited by official bodies.
This year’s survey has revealed the situation is worse than ever, with more than one in nine posts vacant, despite many practices appointing non-GPs to fill the gaps.
It also reveals:
- 44% of practices have had to recruit a partner in the past 12 months, while 52% have had to recruit a salaried GP;
- The average time spent recruiting a partner is now 6.6 months, compared with 5.7 months last year;
- 23% of practices are spending more than a year looking to recruit a partner, compared with 18% last year and 10% in 2014;
- The average time spent recruiting a salaried GP is 5.2 months