Wes Streeting column claiming 5,000 drop in GPs over last decade amended

5 September 2023
What was claimed

There are almost 5,000 fewer fully qualified GPs today than a decade ago.

Our verdict

It is not clear what data Mr Streeting used to calculate this drop. But NHS England says that its general practice workforce data pre-September 2015 is not comparable to the currently published figures. While we have not received any response from the Labour Party the article by Mr Streeting has since been amended.

There are almost 5,000 fewer fully qualified GPs today than a decade ago.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting claimed in a Telegraph piece on Monday 28 August that fully qualified GP numbers have dropped by almost 5,000 in the last 10 years.

Labour has not said what data Mr Streeting was referring to, so we do not know exactly how this 5,000 figure was calculated.

NHS England publishes data on the general practice workforce dating back to 1995. However, the dataset summary says that until September 2015 the figures were produced from a different source and so are not comparable with the more recent monthly data.

This means that if Labour had used the NHS England figures to calculate its 5,000 drop then it may have not been comparing like with like.

We approached the Labour Party asking what figures it had used pre-2015 but have not received any response.

But the Telegraph article has now been amended to say: “There are more than 2,000 fewer fully qualified GPs today than in 2015.”

This is true based on the most recent NHS England general practice workforce data which shows that the number of fully qualified full-time equivalent GPs fell from 29,364 in September 2015 to 27,177 in July this year. However, there has been a rise of about 400 fully qualified GPs by headcount.

NHS England also says figures from September 2015, and for March and September 2016 should be treated with caution because data submission rates from practices were “appreciably lower” than for subsequent reporting periods. It particularly flagged September 2015 should be treated with “additional caution”.

It is not clear exactly when the change to the article was made but it seems to have been after we emailed the Labour Party.

MPs should use official information transparently and with all relevant context and caveats when a claim is first made, and quickly rectify oversights when they occur. 

Image courtesy of Hush Naidoo Jade Photography.

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As detailed in our fact check, Wes Streeting's article in the Telegraph has been amended

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