In recent years, UK health policy makers have responded to a shortage of general practitioners by introducing measures to support increased health care delivery by practitioners from a wider range of backgrounds.

This paper describes the composition of the primary care workforce in England at a time when policy changes affecting deployment of different practitioner types are being introduced.

Design and Setting
Workforce data is reported by GP practices in England to NHS Digital via an online platform and released in publicly available quarterly reports.

We report statistics using practice level data from the NHS Digital June 2019 data extract. Because of the training and upskilling role played by Health Education England (HEE), our analysis compares average workforce composition across the 13 HEE regions.

The workforce participation (in terms of full time equivalent) of each staff group across HEE regions demonstrates regional variation. Differences persist when expressed as mean full time equivalent per thousand patients. Despite policy changes, the majority of workers are employed in long-established primary care roles with only a small proportion of newer types of practitioner (e.g. pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists, physician associates).

We have analysed a more detailed and complete primary care workforce dataset than has previously been available in England. In describing the workforce composition at this time, we establish a foundation for future comparative analyses of changing practitioner deployment prior to the introduction of Primary Care Networks and for evaluating outcomes and costs that may be associated with these changes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Oct 2019


  • general practice
  • health workforce
  • Employment/statistics & numerical data


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