THE number of fully qualified GPs in England has fallen, new figures show.

The total number of full-time equivalent family doctors in the country rose by 312 - to 34,736 - between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the data published by NHS England.

However, there were 441 fewer fully-qualified GPs.

The total number of full-time equivalent fully-qualified GPs in England fell by 1.5% to 28,697 in March this year.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "These figures highlight the ongoing crisis in primary care, and come after years of the most severe funding squeeze in the history of the NHS under the Conservatives.

"Properly resourced general practice is absolutely key to keeping people well and relieving wider pressures on the NHS, yet, having spent time on the front line with GPs, it's obvious morale is low.

"Our GPs are overworked and under-resourced with many experiencing 'burnout'.

"It's time for sustainable, fully resourced, funding solutions for primary and community care, along with credible measures to retain existing staff and recruit for the future."

Meanwhile, there were 313 additional nurses, 691 extra direct patient care staff and 1,320 more non-clinical staff working in general practice, compared with March 2018, the NHS Digital data also shows.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England interim medical director for primary care, said: "While the GP numbers show some encouraging signs, recruiting, retaining and supporting more doctors into practice remains an absolute priority for us.

"Today's figures highlight the good work being done locally to support GPs through retention schemes and flexible working, as well as taking on more trainees.

"A significant increase in the number of other health professionals such as nurses, pharmacists and physicians that work alongside GPs means patients can get more timely and appropriate access to a wider range of highly trained staff.

"This supports family doctors to focus on patients with the most complex conditions and eases the workload pressures our GPs face."