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General Practice Trends in the UK
Figures on the General Practice Workforce are collected and published by:
- NHS Digital for England
- the Welsh Government for Wales
- Northern Ireland Business Services Organisation
- the Information Services Division in Scotland.
Each organisation may calculate their figures slightly differently and to different levels of detail and reporting frequency. Please refer to the links below for the most recent figures for each country.
New data sources and collection and analysis methodologies mean that NHS Digital collects and publishes figures on the primary care workforce in England on a quarterly basis; the frequency of collection and publication for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is different.
NHS Digital no longer maintains the General Practice Trends in the UK publication as the figures are quickly out-of-date.
The General Practice Trends report was a snapshot in time and provided figures that were effective at publication date. However, now that the data may be collected and published more frequently, it is no longer appropriate to continue to release these figures in a static publication that is updated annually. Users are advised to take note of the following important points.
- NHS Digital collects and publishes data on the GP workforce in England quarterly, so figures are quickly updated with new numbers. Due to seasonal variation, comparisons should not be made between quarters, but instead should be made between the same point across years, for example September to September.
- Should comparisons be made between countries, it is important to do so using the same reporting period which may mean that the most recent figures for one or more countries cannot be used.
- The availability and level of data varies across the UK countries. In England, data is available for the whole general practice workforce whereas differing levels of detail are available for the other countries. In addition, there is a preference in England to report figures in terms of the full-time equivalent (FTE) rather than by the count of individuals (headcount) which is a higher figure as many individuals work part-time.
- Issues with definitions and data sources affect the comparability of figures between countries. For example, in England, full-time equivalence is defined as working 37.5 hours per week while in Scotland, this figure is 40 hours.
- The collected data may be handled differently in different countries. In England, estimates are made to adjust for incomplete or missing data whereas issues relating to completeness and coverage may be handled differently in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
- England’s GP Workforce figures include counts of Registrars from Health Education England’s Trainee Information System. This ensures that counts of Registrars in England are up-to-date and can be included in the figures. However, data relating to trainee GPs may be handled differently in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
- The handling of locum data is different across the four UK countries. Some may use the National Performers List to count locums in their countries whereas England’s GP Workforce report collects data directly from practices on a quarterly basis to report those working as a locum during the reporting period.
- As methodologies change, for example the way in which estimates are calculated for missing or incomplete data, historical figures may be revised by one or more countries. The links provided below will ensure that users are always able to access the most up-to-date information for each country rather than running the risk that figures have been replaced with revised numbers.
- NHS Digital General Practice Workforce, England
- Welsh Government General Medical Practitioners in Wales
- Information Services Division Scotland, General Practice
- Northern Ireland Business Services Organisation, General Medical Services
- Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
- General Practice Trends in the UK publication archive