Bishop of Norwich presses Government on sustainability of GP numbers

NHS: General Practitioners


The Bishop of Norwich asked a written question of Government, on the number of GPs available for primary care needs in the next five years. He received an answer from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Earl Howe, on 10th March 2014. The question and reply are below.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich:

The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James
The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there are adequate numbers of general practitioners (GPs) available for primary care needs in England over the next five years in the light of the age profile of current practising GPs, their increasing role as commissioners, and the impact of the introduction of revalidation for all doctors.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Department set up Health Education England (HEE) to deliver a better health and healthcare workforce for England. HEE is responsible for ensuring a secure workforce supply for the future balancing need against demand, taking into account factors such as the age profile of the existing workforce, the impact of technology, and new drugs. For the medical workforce, revalidation should not create an additional burden for doctors as medical appraisals have been mandatory for National Health Service doctors since 2000.

In relation to general practitioners (GPs), the Department has recognised the need to increase the GP workforce and has included in the HEE mandate a requirement that “progress should be made in each year of the mandate towards ensuring that 50% of medical students become GPs”. There will be a further update in the refreshed HEE mandate later in spring 2014.

The Department commissioned a GP Taskforce for England to review what the whole system needs to do to achieve this target. This taskforce is expected to report in the next few weeks. NHS England is also reviewing the future model of provision of primary care “Improving General Practice—a Call to Action”, which includes a work-stream looking at the future composition of the workforce.

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