Government aim to boost GP numbers by 5,000 'wholly unrealistic'

It is "wholly unrealistic" of the Government to expect to increase the number of GPs by 5,000 by 2020, medics have warned.

The family doctor workforce will increase by 2,100 "in the best case scenario", new research by GP magazine Pulse found.

It said there will be around 12,800 GPs entering the system by 2020 at the current rate, but thousands of doctors are planning to move abroad or retire.

Pulse said over five years around 3,500 GPs could leave British practices, as around 700 are applying for certificates to work abroad every year.

In addition, it said around 7,200 plan to retire over five years.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) General Practitioners Committee subcommittee on education, training and workforce, said: "The political pledge to recruit 5,000 GPs by 2020 is wholly unrealistic."With 600 GP trainee posts left unfilled last year and large sections of the workforce telling the BMA they intend to retire, there is little chance the Government will get anywhere near this target."

A Department of Health spokesman told the magazine: "Pulse's figures don't take the whole picture into account. NHS England and Health Education England are working closely with the BMA and RCGP on a 10-point plan which sets out exactly how we will achieve this. We have been clear that our target includes registrars."