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11% fall in the number of GPs in the North East since 2015 is the largest in the country

Around 425 more GPs are needed in the region to run services at the right level Credit: PA

The number of GPs in the North East has fallen by 11% since 2015, despite a rise in demand.

There are 160 fewer GPs in the region than four years ago, according to Trades Union Congress (TUC) analysis.

In 2015 the Conservative government pledged to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020. Since then the number of doctors at GP surgeries across England has fallen by nearly 1,000.

Doctors’ leaders say the average number of patients GPs should have on their list is 1,600 in order to provide a high-quality service.

In September this year the average number of patients per GP in the North East was 2,100.

With demand on GP surgeries increasing unions say an additional 9,000 doctors – around 425 in the North East – are needed to run services at the right level.

The areas of the North East in need of the most GPs are:

  • NHS Newcastle Gateshead, 88 GPs short
  • NHS South Tees, 59 GPs short
  • NHS Sunderland, 51 GPs short

TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said:

"Waiting times are increasing and patients are not getting the treatments they need on time. And family doctors are stressed and overwhelmed.

“The next government must put working families first, invest in our NHS and boost GP numbers".

The British Medical Association have responded to the TUC analysis by saying that there are simply not enough GPs to meet demand. Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:

As we’ve said time and time again, there are simply not enough GPs to meet demand and guarantee safe, quality care to patients. And as doctors stretch themselves more thinly, they risk their own health and wellbeing."

– Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair

"While election promises to boost GP numbers are necessary and encouraging, politicians must learn from mistakes of the past.

“This means both encouraging more young doctors to choose general practice, while retaining those talented and experienced GPs who work tirelessly in their communities every day."