GP shortages: how your NHS area of Merseyside rates as doctors brand pressures ‘unsustainable’

There are stark differences in the number of GPs working in different parts of the Liverpool City Region with Wirral having the best ratio in England.

Some areas of England are having to get by with half the number of GPs for their population compared to others, analysis of NHS figures shows.

The Royal College of GPs has warned that while there is a national shortage of GPs, some areas “face greater difficulties” recruiting much-needed staff.

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The Nuffield Trust, which published the analysis, said the “stark differences” show up NHS failings.

But the Government said a record number of people started training as GPs last year.

Portsmouth has the lowest number of GPs for its population at 39.5 GPs per 100,000 patients, the figures for April show.

That is half the rate seen in Wirral, where there are 80.7 GPs per 100,000 patients, which is the best ratio in the entire country.

It’s a similar story for the NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has the second best rate in England at 78.2 GPs per 100,000 patients.

But it is not a trend that spans the whole of the Liverpool City Region, with Knowsley among those with some of the lowest rates in the country.

A GP speaks to a patient in an office. Image: goodluz - stock.adobe.com

Nuffield Trust Senior Fellow, Billy Palmer said: "These disparities mean people in some areas are less able to access their family doctor than people elsewhere.

“In an NHS founded on the principle of equal treatment, such stark differences represent a serious failing."

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The size of the fully-qualified GP workforce is falling whilst the number of patients continues to grow – as a result, the ratio of patients to GPs has increased significantly over recent years.

“Whilst this is happening across the country, some regions are being affected worse than others as they face greater difficulties recruiting new GPs and other staff.”

He called on the Government to “make good on its manifesto promise of 6,000 more full time equivalent GPs” by 2024.

He said: “GPs want to be able to consistently give their patients the care they deserve, no matter where they live in the country, but the intense workload and workforce pressures facing general practice are unsustainable.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said the number of GPs was rising and thousands were being trained each year.

A spokesperson said: “We are hugely grateful for the care GPs and their staff provide to patients and we are working hard to support and grow the workforce.

“There were over 1,400 more doctors working in general practice in March 2022 compared to the same time in 2019 and a record-breaking number started training as GPs last year.

“We have invested £520 million to expand GP capacity during the pandemic, on top of £1.5 billion until 2024 and we are making 4,000 training places available for GPs each year, helping to create an extra 50 million appointments a year.”

GP rates in the Liverpool City Region

1. Knowsley

There are just 54.3 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS Knowsley CCG area, the lowest rate in the region and the 36th lowest in England.

2. Southport and Formby

There are 57.1 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS Southport and Formby CCG - the 51st lowest in England.

3. South Sefton

There are 58.7 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS South Sefton CCG - the 59th lowest rate in England.

4. Halton

There are 62.8 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS Halton CCG - the 24th highest rate in England.

5. St Helens

There are 63.2 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS St Helens CCG - the 22nd highest rate in England.

6. Liverpool

There are 78.2 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS Liverpool CCG - the 2nd highest rate in England.

7. Wirral

There are 80.7 GPs per 100,000 patients in the NHS Wirral CCG - the best rate in England.