General election 2019: Tory pledge to boost GP numbers

Posted: November 11th 2019


I’m sure all the parties jockeying for position over the next few weeks will be making key statements. This is an important opening salvo as more GPs are desperately needed in rural England. This story tells us:

The Tories say they will deliver 6,000 more doctors in general practice in England by 2024-25 to increase patient appointments, if they win the election.

They claim they will reach that target through additional doctors working and training in surgeries, international recruitment and better retention.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a previous Tory pledge to recruit 5,000 GPs by 2020 had not been met.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "You can't trust the Tories on the NHS."

He said despite the Conservatives' previous promise of more general practitioners made in 2015, GP numbers have declined.

Labour has said it wants to expand GP training places from 3,500 to 5,000 a year to ease the burden on GPs.

The Conservatives say their plan would see the current tally of 3,538 GPs in training every year rise by about 500 each year over the next four years. 

And recruiting more GPs from overseas while improving efforts to retain current staff would lead to a total of 6,000 more doctors than there are now, they claim.

But it is not yet clear how this will be achieved.

In 2015, the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, pledged to have 5,000 more GPs working in the NHS in England by 2020. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Hancock acknowledged GP numbers had in fact decreased since 2015.

He said: "It's true the number of GPs was falling when I became health secretary [in July 2018].

"The numbers are now rising but I want them to go much further."