Our local NHS area lost the equivalent of 11 full-time GPs in the 12 months between December 2017 and 2018, according to latest figures.
Healthwatch Reading analysed official NHS data, as the BBC revealed new research, on 8 May 2019, which claims the NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers for 50 years.
NHS Digital figures show that the NHS Berkshire West area – which covers Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire - had 273 full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs providing patient care in December 2018, down from 284 in December 2017. Many GPs work part-time, so the data is calculated by adding up their hours, then dividing that by a 37.5-hour full-time week, to work out the FTE.
Every FTE GP in Berkshire West has an average of 1,900 patients each, based on the Berkshire West population of 528,126 people.
To cope with the GP shortfalls, practices will be expected to form themselves into new primary care networks that will employ pharmacists, physiotherapists, and other staff to absorb some of their patient workload. These extra staff will be employed with extra NHS funding from the government announced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan published in January 2019.