GPs are finding it increasingly harder to recruit, with almost one in ten GP partner positions currently vacant, shows a Pulse survey that calls into question promises from all the main parties to extend access to GPs.
The survey of 458 GPs reports finds that 9% of full-time equivalent GP positions are currently unfilled, compared with a 6% vacancy rate last year.
The figures also reveal that it is taking longer to recruit partners, with almost one in five roles taking more than a year to fill, compared with one in 10 vacancies last year.
GPs have told Pulse that they are having to close their doors because they have been unable to recruit partners, even in affluent areas of London.
These are the worst vacancy rates in the four years Pulse has been running the survey, and they come at a time when political parties are pledging to introduce seven-day access, same-day access to GPs for some patients and a GP in every A&E department by next winter.
Several GP partners responding to the survey said they had resorted to financial incentives, also known as golden hello schemes, to attract partners, with a variety of outcomes.
Labour and UKIP both promise to increase GP numbers by 8,000 by 2020, and the Conservatives and Lib Dems both promise 5,000 new GPs.
But GP leaders say that these new figures reinforce the belief that it will be impossible for parties to carry out their election pledges.
This article originally appeared on Pulse Today.