How busy is my GP surgery? NHS figures show huge variation in patient numbers per doctor in England

The number of patients for each GP varies widely from surgery to surgery, NHS figures show. As the Government unveils its plans to improve access to appointments in England, find out how busy your local doctor is using our interactive charts.
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Some doctor’s surgeries in England have far more patients per GP than others, NHS figures show.

It suggests some will struggle more than others to meet new Government targets of ensuring no patients wait more than two weeks for an appointment.

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On average, across England there are 1,719 patients for every full-time-equivalent GP. But patient-to-GP ratios vary hugely across the country, from just 89 patients per full-time GP at a surgery based in a residential home in Balham, London, to 40,875 at a practice in Stratford, London.

The Royal College of GPs warned that experienced GPs were “exhausted or burning out” because of unsustainable workloads.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there is no government recommendation for the number of patients each GP should have, as this would be affected by many different factors.

In September, Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey unveiled plans to improve access to GP surgeries, saying everyone who needs one should get an appointment at a GP practice within two weeks. The plan involves more support staff and increased use of pharmacies, among other changes. Health is a devolved matter, so the new strategy only covers England.

How busy is my GP?

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The GP-to-patient ratio is only one way of looking at how busy a surgery is. Most surgeries will also have other staff treating patients, such as nurses, physiotherapists and midwives. But it does show how the patient list for GPs differs from practice to practice.


Regionally, the North West has the fewest patients per GP, at 1,557, while London has the most, at 1,955. The figures, a snapshot from August 31 of this year, were published by NHS Digital and include trainee GP and locums.

Find out whether your local GP surgery has an above-average number of patients for each GP, through our interactive map. Can’t see the map? Click here.


Alternatively, search for your GP practice using this table. Can’t see the table? Click here.


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Sometimes, a surgery might appear to have a low number of GPs because they share staff with a neighbouring practice. Alternatively, they may have been in the process of recruiting when they supplied their staffing figures to the NHS.

What do doctors say?

Professor Martin Marshall, who chairs the Royal College of GPs, said the ratio of patients to fully-qualified GPs had increased significantly in recent years.

He said: “While the problem is UK-wide, some regions are being affected worse than others as they face greater difficulties recruiting new GPs and retaining their existing GP workforce. GPs want to be able to consistently give their patients the personalised care they deserve, no matter where they live in the country. But the increased workload expected of GPs and their teams, coupled with the chronic shortage of GPs, is unsustainable.


“Experienced GPs are exhausted or burning out, and many are facing little choice but to evaluate continuing their career in general practice over concerns of delivering safe patient care and their own wellbeing.”

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Dr Kieran Sharrock, of doctors’ union the British Medical Association, said: “More needs to be done to retain and recruit GPs, especially in areas where we have the lowest numbers of doctors. Practices are now made up of a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians so that there is more capacity to support patients, but we simply do not have the number of staff we need in primary care to match patient demand.”

What does the government say?

The Department of Health and Social Care said there are a record numbers of GPs in training.

A spokesperson said: "Each General Practice is required to provide services to meet the reasonable needs of its patients. There is no government recommendation for how many patients should be assigned to a GP, as the demands each patient places on their GP are different and can be affected by many different factors – including rurality and patient demographics.”

Unveiling her plan to improve access to primary care last month, Dr Coffey said: “I will put a laser-like focus on the needs of patients, making their priorities my priorities and being a champion for them on the issues that affect them most. Our plan will make it easier to get a general practice appointment and we will work tirelessly to deliver that, alongside supporting our hardworking GP teams.”

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