The number of GPs working in England has grown by 1,300 between 2010 and 2014, according to figures published today.
You might be forgiven for thinking that means they're up 1,300 under this government, which came into office in May 2010.
But it doesn't. The figures are annual and they only count the number of GPs as of the end of September each year. So we know how many GPs there were the September before May's election, and how many there were the September after it. But there's no way of knowing how many there were at the election, as the UK Statistics Authority wrote last year.
The number of GPs fell between September 2009 and September 2010, but we don't know how much of that drop occurred before or after the election. And anyway, the change since the precise date of the election is probably not the best way to assess the Government's record on GPs. Relevant policy changes took a while to come into being and their effects—for example on the number of training places or on the incentives for existing GPs to retire—would have been felt even later.
All the figures we've used in this piece are "full-time equivalent" numbers, which gives us a better idea of staffing levels by accounting for their working hours.
We've also excluded registrars (doctors on the GP training programme) and retainers (who work as GPs on a part-time basis). If you include them the number of GPs is up 1,700 from September 2010 and up 800 from September 2009.
Isn't it nice to have the whole picture?
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