A Pulse survey has revealed that GP vacancy rates are at the highest level ever recorded, with one in six positions currently unfilled.

Recent official figures showed that 1,000 GPs have left the workforce since 2015 with the DHSC admitting it would "struggle" to meet its target to recruit 5,000 GPs by 2020.

The BMA revealed, in January, that almost half of GPs had vacancies in their practices. A third of GP practices told the BMA they had vacancies unfilled for 12 months, and 90% said their workload was often unmanageable.

BMA GPC chair, Dr Richard Vautrey, said that unfilled vacancies have created ‘"unmanageable" workloads. "The Government must prioritise general practice and urgently invest in it to address this growing crisis which is threatening to undermine the foundation on which the wider NHS is built. We cannot allow a situation where patient safety is being compromised by a lack of political action".

The Prime  Minister recently pledged to increase funding of £20.5bn over the next five years as the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday. 

Increasing the number of GPs will be a challenge for new Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, whose enthusiasm for digital technology and artificial intelligence, which he displayed as culture secretary, could be the mark he makes on the NHS. Will this make or break primary care?