Bucks GP practices have more patients on average than almost anywhere else in England

Each GP team is dealing with an average of 11,982 patients.
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GP practices in Buckinghamshire have more patients on average than almost anywhere else in the country, figures show.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said a rapid expansion of the GP workforce across England is needed, as the number of patients per practice hit a new national record.

NHS Digital figures show 575,137 patients were registered at the 48 GP practices in the NHS Buckinghamshire CCG area, as of the end of June.

Well over 500,000 people are registered to a GP in BucksWell over 500,000 people are registered to a GP in Bucks
Well over 500,000 people are registered to a GP in Bucks

This meant each GP team was dealing with an average of 11,982 patients each – up from 11,647 in June 2020.

That was one of the highest averages of all CCGs in the country, and well above NHS South Sefton CCG, in the North West, where each practice had around 5,405 patients each.

Across England, 60.8 million patients were registered at 6,571 facilities in June – equating to an average of 9,258 people per practice.

This was up 2.4% on a year previously, and the highest figure since comparable quarterly records began in 2015.

Richard Vautrey, chairman of the BMA’s GP committee said: “The differences seen throughout England reflect the overall workforce crisis, which has been troubling for over a decade now.

"Numbers of GPs are falling while demand rises, leaving us with a severe shortage.

"With a growing and ageing population, only a medical workforce expansion will give us hope that we can offer good quality care to everyone in the future.”

He urged the Government to rapidly grow the medical workforce by at least 31% to ensure all citizens receive the same standard of care.

The NHS figures also reveal how one practice in Buckinghamshire has around eight times as many patients as another.

Westongrove Partnership has the most patients registered, with 30,628, while Prospect House Surgery has the fewest – 3,610.

The figures come as new research from the University of Cambridge finds that there are fewer GPs per patient in poorer parts of England compared to wealthier regions.

The academics found that between September 2015 and December 2020 there were, on average, 1.4 fewer full time equivalent GPs per 10,000 patients in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.

Dr John Ford, the study’s senior author, said: “People who live in disadvantaged regions of England are not only more likely to have long-term health problems, but are likely to find it even more difficult to see a GP and experience worse care when they see a GP.

“This is just one aspect of how disadvantage accumulates for some people leading to poor health and early death."

The Department of Health and Social Care said the new Office for Health Promotion – to be launched later this year – will "level up the health of the nation" and close disparities.

A spokeswoman added: “We have invested £270 million to expand GP capacity, on top of the £1.5 billion for extra staff until 2023-24.

“The highest ever number of doctors accepted a place on GP specialty training in 2020 and we are committed to increasing the number of training places available to 4,000 a year, as well as targeting recruitment in hard-to-recruit areas."