The number of GPs has fallen since the NHS launched a “rescue package” to tackle crisis shortages of family doctors, official figures show.
Ministers have repeatedly pledged to bring in 5,000 more GPs, in response to a growing crisis, which has led to record numbers of practices closures across the country.
A year ago, health officials drew up a five-year plan, pledging to put general practice “back on its feet” by recruiting doctors from abroad, offering £20,000 incentives for trainees and bringing in extra support staff.
The initiative- boosting funding by £2.4bn a year by 2020 – came amid concern about lengthening waiting times, and a shortfall of GPs across the country.
But the new figures, published by NHS Digital, show a drop of 542 GPs since the plan was published last April.
The total number of (full time equivalent) GPs dropped from 34,914 in March 2016 to 34,372 in March 2017, the figures show.
More than 250,000 patients have been “displaced” by surgery closures in the last year – a five-fold rise since 2013.
And the number of patients waiting at least a week for an appointment has risen from 13.8 per cent to 19.3 per cent in three years.