GP pressure: Numbers show first sustained drop for 50 years
The NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in the UK for 50 years, the BBC can reveal.
An analysis by the Nuffield Trust think tank for the BBC shows the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year.
The last time numbers fell like this was in the late 1960s and it comes at a time when the population is ageing and demands on GPs are rising.
Patient groups said it was causing real difficulties in making appointments.
There have been reports of waits of up to seven weeks for a routine appointment, while those needing urgent appointments have been forced to queue outside practices in the early morning to guarantee to be seen.
The pressures on GPs are being looked at by the BBC as part of a special day of coverage, including a Panorama investigation.
Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, president of the Royal College of GPs, said: "General practice cannot be allowed to fail. It is an absolute cornerstone of the NHS."
NHS bosses maintain that steps are being taken to improve access, with more GPs being trained and extra support staff recruited to work alongside them.
Read further at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48191438