Slight rise in number of nurses in general practice despite surgery closures claim

NHS England figures show rise in practice nurse numbers, despite a claim of surgery closures
Practice nurses

The number of nurses in general practice rose slightly in March, figures from NHS England show, despite a claim of surgery closures

Picture: Alamy

Figures from NHS England show there were 16,483 full-time equivalent nurses working in general practice in England as of March this year, up from 16,170 in March 2018.

The total number of full-time equivalent family doctors in the country rose by 312 to 34,736 in the year to March 2019, according to the data. However, there were 441 fewer fully qualified GPs.

Jonathan Ashworth
Picture: David Gee

UK surgery closures

Meanwhile, a Pulse magazine investigation found that almost 140 surgeries closed across the UK last year, affecting an estimated half a million patients.

The number of closures was higher than in any previous year and was eight times the number seen in 2013, it claimed. In addition, provisional data showed 12 more closures in January compared with eight in the same month last year, the magazine added. However, NHS England said it did not recognise the surgery closure figures from Pulse.

Commenting on the NHS England figures, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said they highlighted an ‘ongoing crisis’ in primary care. ‘It’s time for sustainable, fully resourced funding solutions for primary and community care, along with credible measures to retain existing staff and recruit for the future,' he said.

Timely access

NHS England acting director of primary care Nikki Kanani said an increase in the number of other professionals working alongside GPs – such as nurses, pharmacists and physicians – means patients have more timely and appropriate access to a wider range of highly trained staff.

Dr Kanani said: ‘This supports family doctors to focus on patients with the most complex conditions and eases the workload pressures our GPs face.’

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