16 May 2017

‘Staggering’ GP Vacancy Problem Must Be Addressed as a Matter of Urgency, Says RCGP

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We know that practices across the country are finding it really difficult to recruit GPs to fill vacant posts, and the degree to which this problem has increased over the last six years is staggering. In the most severe cases, not being able to recruit has forced practices to close, and this can be a devastating experience for the patients and staff affected, and the wider NHS.

“Being a GP is intellectually challenging, emotionally rewarding and incredibly varied – it should be an easy profession to recruit to. But at present UK general practice does not have sufficient resources to deliver the care and services necessary to meet our patients’ changing needs – meaning that GPs and our teams are working under intense pressures, which are simply unsustainable.

“Workload in general practice is escalating – it has increased 16% over the last seven years according to the latest research – yet investment in our service has steadily declined over the last decade and the number of GPs has not risen in step with patient demand.

“This must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Progress is being made in recruiting more junior doctors into general practice, but overall GP numbers are down on last year, so we need to see a huge push in efforts to retain trained, experienced GPs in the workforce - as well as continuing to step up recruitment efforts, and making it easier to return to practice after a career break or period working abroad.

“Ahead of the General Election in June, the RCGP has launched ‘Six Steps for Safer General Practice’; our manifesto for the next government, urging it to deliver the GP Forward View in full, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020. We also want to ensure that the status of EU GPs working in the NHS is secure as part of Brexit negotiations.”

Further Information

Read Six Steps to Safer General Practice here

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.