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• Conservatives have “broken 2015 promise” to increase GP numbers, says TUC
• GP numbers have fallen as the population has increased
• GP provision at “critical” levels

The Number of GPs in the North West has fallen by around 90 since 2015 despite Conservative promises to boost numbers, new TUC analysis has shown today (Monday).

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

Overstretched services

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.

But in September this year the average number of patients per GP in the North West was 2,000.

With demand on GP surgeries increasing unions say an additional 9,000 doctors – around 1,100 in the North West – are needed to run services at the right level.

The average wait for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks.

Regional impact

The North East (with an 11% drop in the number of GPs) and the East of England (-7%) have seen the biggest overall fall in doctors since 2015.

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

  • NHS Manchester, 106 GPs short
  • NHS East Lancashire, 72 GPs short
  • NHS Tameside and Glossop, 55 GPs short

TUC Regional Secretary Jay McKenna said: “The Conservatives promised a big increase in GP numbers. But on their watch the number of doctors has fallen while demand has increased.

“Our hardworking and overstretched GPs are working tirelessly to help patients. But there are simply not enough of them to keep up with demand.

“As a result 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.”

Editors note

Notes to editors:
- In 2015 the Conservative government pledged to increase GP numbers by 5,000 by 2020:

- Registrars are excluded from this analysis.

- Figures were calculated using NHS digital data in October 2015 and September 2019.

- The shortfall in number of GPs is calculated by comparing the actual number of GPs to the average recommended of 1,600 patients by GP (BMA. Safe working in general practice report)


Full time equivalent GPs % change 2015-19

% change registered patients 2015-19

Shortfall in number of GPs


East of England




East Midlands




Greater London




North East




North West




South East




South West




West Midlands




Yorkshire & the Humber




Total England





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