'One in ten' GP posts vacant as surgeries struggle to fill positions

Almost one in ten GP posts are empty with vacancy rates at their worst level for five years, a survey has found.

A poll by Pulse magazine found vacancy rates in surgeries are now at 9% - up from 6% last year.

The GP magazine collected data from 458 GPs, which showed practices have 187 positions unfilled.

Nearly one in five (18%) said it takes more a year to appoint a GP partner at their surgery, with 17% saying it takes between six and 12 months. Some were forced to close for lack of staff.

Professor Nigel Mathers, honorary secretary of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), said: "These figures reinforce what the College has been saying for some time - that we have a severe shortage of family doctors across the UK and that this is now having a serious impact on our patients who are having to wait longer and longer for a GP appointment.

"We are encouraged that, in the run-up to the General Election, many of the political parties have recognised the pressures facing GPs and have pledged more GPs and more investment for general practice.

"Now we need to see these pledges backed up with firm commitments to implement robust plans to build the GP workforce, such as our joint 10-point plan, launched earlier this year with NHS England, Health Education England, and the BMA.

"We must all work together to 'recruit retain and return' as many GPs as possible to the profession in order to keep the NHS sustainable and keep our patients safe."