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Publication, Part of

General Practitioner Workforce in Alternative Settings, Experimental Statistics

Experimental statistics
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The nature of primary care provision is changing. GPs and other staff providing primary care are no longer based solely in general practices but may work in a range of other “settings”, for example providing extended hours, GP streaming in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, and Out-of-Hours services.

There is an increasing need to understand the different ways in which GPs and their colleagues are providing primary care services. This is a complicated and ever-changing area.

Most GPs work in general practices. Information about GPs and other practice-based staff is provided directly to NHS Digital on a quarterly basis by the GP practices which submit record-level data via the National Workforce Reporting System (NWRS). Information about these individuals and their associated workforce are published in General Practice Workforce statistics (

Similarly, information about GPs and other healthcare professionals directly employed by hospital trusts should be captured and included in NHS Workforce Statistics ( Additional work is required to identify which parts, if any, of this activity can reasonably be classified as primary care provision.

In addition, where available, details of individuals providing NHS funded care in the independent sector are captured and reported in NHS Digital’s Independent Healthcare Provider Workforce Statistics (

However, there remains an uncertain number of GPs and other healthcare professionals that are providing patient care in these alternative settings and whose information, including details of their working hours, is not collected.

As understanding the entirety of the healthcare workforce, both NHS and independent sector, is crucial to meeting the needs of patients and vital for workforce planning, we have been working to better understand the nature of healthcare provision, and in particular, the scale and extent of GP provision outside the more traditional settings.

The number of service providers in these alternative settings – which are not necessarily NHS organisations – is large and services are commissioned differently in each CCG making it difficult to identify GPs and to collect accurate and complete workforce data.

We are working closely with key stakeholders including Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement and Health Education England to explore the best way to collect more accurate and complete data for this part of the GP workforce. This is likely to include reviewing whether sufficient improvements could be made to this quarterly collection to enhance the data quality, as well as considering whether it would be feasible, affordable or preferable to collect record-level data directly from providers.

These are new and experimental statistics which are under development. We welcome feedback from users to help us evaluate their suitability and quality. Please send any comments to including “GPs in Alternative Settings” in the subject line. Your feedback about these experimental statistics will help us evaluate their usefulness and inform our future plans.

While the experimental statistics designation should not be taken to indicate that the statistics are of poor quality, there are nonetheless a number of data quality considerations that affect the levels of confidence that may be bestowed upon the figures and users are advised to consult the Data Quality section of this release.


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Last edited: 29 August 2019 7:48 am