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Publication, Part of

General Practice Workforce, 31 December 2021

Official statistics

Methodological Change - re-introduction of fully-estimated records

We have introduced a significant methodological change in this release and revised the entire time series back to September 2015, which means that figures in this release differ from and supersede those previously published. 

In August 2021 (for the June 2021 publication) we revised the entire General Practice workforce time series back to September 2015, making several methodological changes to the way in which the workforce numbers are calculated.  

  • Fully-estimated records (where a practice has not provided any valid data for a staff group) - were removed. Partial estimates (where the practice provides a record for an identifiable individual but does not include information about their contracted or working hours) - were still made and included in outputs.  
  • Ad-hoc locums - were removed from the main tables as the move to monthly data extracts meant the headcount figures would not be comparable with previous quarterly collections and retaining them in the main tables would lead to an unavoidable break in the time series  
  • Zero hours contracts – where working or contracted hours were recorded in the reporting period, staff are now counted in both the FTE and headcount figures, where neither working hours or contracted hours are recorded, staff are not counted in either.  

Following stakeholder feedback regarding the impact removing the estimates may have had on the rate of the change in parts of workforce, NHS Digital committed to reviewing the removal of fully-estimated records. As a result of the findings of this review, estimates have been reinstated using an improved methodology, and the entire time series has been revised to include these estimates.   All other changes introduced in August 2021 remain in place. 

Please refer to the Methodological Review and Changes page of this publication for more information. 

All historical Individual-level CSVs since September 2015 and Practice-level CSVs for selected reporting periods have been reproduced with revised figures and included with this publication.  We plan to reproduce all relevant historical CSVs in summer 2022, to include the revised figures and remapped to represent the regional structure which is due to come into effect on 1 July 2022.

10 February 2022 09:30 AM

NHS Geography Updates

There have been changes to the NHS England and Improvement regional structure since this release. From 1st July 2022, Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) were established as statutory bodies replacing CCGs and STPs. From the General Practice Workforce, 31 July 2022 publication, data is instead aggregated to Sub-ICB Location, and ICB level. These geography updates also involved boundary changes, with some practices moving to different Sub-ICB Locations and ICBs than they would previously have been situated.

In order to have a consistent and comparable time series at regional level, all Individual and Practice-level CSVs were reproduced as part of the 31 July 2022 release, with practices and Sub-ICB Locations remapped to reflect this latest structure. National totals are unaffected by this remapping but some figures at Sub-ICB (previously CCG) and ICB (previously STP) levels may differ to those previously published.

The regional bulletin tables 6a, 6b, 7 and Annex C, and the Practice and Individual-level CSVs presented here reflect the old structure. Therefore, users are encouraged to use the remapped CSV files released with the 31 July 2022 publication for historical regional general practice workforce figures. The time series table Annex C in the 31 July 2022 bulletin file has also been remapped.

1 July 2022 00:00 AM

Page contents

Changes in this release

We have made some significant changes to this series of Official Statistics following discussions with our stakeholders and thorough testing of estimation methodologies, to make the series as robust and statistically sound as possible. Please refer to Methodology Review and Changes for more details.


Impact of methodological changes

Because fully-estimated records have been reinstated with a new methodology, we have revised the entire time series of these Official Statistics back to September 2015.

Figures in the publication of data for December 2021 are not comparable with any earlier releases, which should not be used.

For the publication of December 2021 data, all Individual-level CSVs since September 2015 have been reproduced, now with fully-estimated records included, as well as a CSV presenting December 2021 data. Previous versions of these files should no longer be used. 

Practice-level CSVs do not include fully-estimated records, and so the re-introduction of full estimation does not affect the numbers in these files. However, the reprocessing of the historical data can, in some instances, lead to a small reduction in headcount within these files. This is because, as time goes by and we receive more information about individuals from practices, we can retrospectively and more accurately assign identifiers to individuals and identify where they are the same person.

Additionally, although full estimations are not included in the practice-level figures since we calculate them at CCG-level and upwards, we do include information in the file to indicate which practices have provided no data and which ones we have calculated full estimations for, for each staff group.

Because of this additional information and the chance that headcounts may decrease by very small numbers, but no other figures are affected, we have reproduced practice-level CSVs only for September in each year.

The most relevant practice and individual-level CSVs will be re-produced in summer 2022 to reflect the new NHS England and Improvement regional structure.


Additional adjustments to September 2018 figures

The re-processing of the data to calculate and introduce full estimates for each reporting period highlighted a processing error when data for September 2018 was first produced, which had resulted in 354 staff records being excluded in error. This error has been corrected and the September figures released in this publication, within the bulletin tables and Individual and Practice-level CSVs, now include these reinstated records.



These changes have been implemented in the General Practice Workforce publication on 10 February 2022. All England-level figures in the time series have been recalculated. We have revised all figures in the Individual-level CSVs for each quarter (March, June, September and December) since September 2015 but will not recalculate the subnational figures.


Forthcoming changes

Each year we re-produce historical practice and individual-level CSVs, with practices and CCGs remapped to reflect the latest NHS England and Improvement regional structure. In 2022, changes to the structure include the establishment of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) as statutory bodies and they will succeed Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs). When ICBs are legally established, all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are due to be statutorily abolished.

It was originally expected that these changes would come in to effect in April 2022. However, this target date has now been changed to 1 July 2022 to allow more time for the remaining parliamentary stages and to enable organisations to manage their more immediate pandemic response priorities. Once these changes have been implemented, they will be reflected in this publication and the most relevant historical Practice and Individual-level CSVs will be reproduced to reflect the new structure, and republished.


Further information

If you have any comments or questions about these changes, please contact NHS Digital on 0300 303 5678 or email Primary[email protected].

Last edited: 25 August 2022 2:00 pm