The drop in GPs working in Bolton cuts against national trends that saw numbers rise slightly across England.

Figures show that there are now the equivalent of 12 fewer full time GPs in Bolton compared to April last year, while the rest of England has seen a 2.4 per cent increase.

But leading GPs have warned that “significant numbers” of people all over the country are still having to wait too long for appointments.

Royal College of GPs chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said: “Everyone should be able to see a GP when they need to but too many patients are facing untenable and totally unacceptable waits and it’s our hard-pressed GPs and their teams who are taking the blame.

“GPs are working harder than ever but general practice is at breaking point.

Bolton has seen a fall in GP numbersBolton has seen a fall in GP numbers (Image: Newsquest)

“GPs are as worried and frustrated as their patients when it becomes impossible to get an appointment when needed.

“With general election campaigning under way, all political parties need to be prioritising real investment in general practice to fix this crisis.”

In Bolton, figures from the House of Commons Library drawn from NHS Digital data shows that there were the equivalent of 207 full time GPs practicing across the borough.

This was a fall from 219 in April last year.

But across England there are now the equivalent of 37,237 full time GPs, a rise of 2.4 per cent compared to April 2023 and 2,711 more than in March 2019.

Much of this has been driven by trainees, with 9,631 GPs across England in training as of this spring compared to 6,040 five years ago.

The workforce lost 880 fully qualified practitioners during this period.

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Prof Hawthorne said: “Without immediate action, the future of general practice is at risk.

“For whoever forms the next government this must be a ‘day one’ issue. The voting public wants to know what the winning party is going to do to ensure they can access safe, timely appropriate care from their local practice.

“We don’t need gimmicky, unrealistic targets that might sound good on a paper and might win votes but will never work without enough GPs to deliver them.

“We need significant investment and further efforts to increase the GP workforce, especially in encouraging the brilliant GPs we already have, to remain in the profession or this situation will only get worse.”