The number of doctors in practices has continued to rise – but the trend towards part-time employment continues. At the end of last year, there were 187,441 doctors and psychotherapists licensed to care for those with statutory health insurance. This emerges from an evaluation by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), which is available to the German Press Agency. This was 2,143 more than at the end of 2022. However, for the first time there were more than 60,000 part-time doctors.

No decline in general practitioner practices

For the first time in several years, there was no decline in general practitioner practices. According to the Federal Medical Register, as of December 31, 2023, there were 51,389 general practitioners, 75 more than at the end of 2022. Ten years earlier, however, there were still 52,262 general practitioners.

KBV boss Andreas Gassen said: “On-site practice is a factor of social stability.” If Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is right about wanting to strengthen outpatient care, then the aim must be to improve the framework conditions for the practices and not to force them into an increasingly rigid set of rules. The general practitioners and specialists are the backbone of care with one billion patient contacts per year.

Overall, the number of doctors grew slightly by 0.7 percent compared to the end of 2022 to now 153,726. This included 49,217 employed doctors who do not own the practice themselves. According to the new data, the number of psychotherapists rose by 3.4 percent to 33,715. The average part-time share for all specialist groups is 35.8 percent. Against this background, the resource of time remains scarce, explained the KBV.

The increase in the average age has slowed down in recent years, according to the analysis. As in 2022, the average at the end of 2023 was 54.1 years. In 2001 he was just under 50 years old. The highest average age for medical psychotherapists is currently around 60 years, and for general practitioners it is around 55 years.

Women on the rise

Women are continuing to advance in practices. Psychotherapists and doctors now have a combined total of 51.5 percent, after exceeding the 50 percent mark for the first time in 2022. For the first time, the majority of family doctors (50.5 percent) are now compared to their male colleagues.

Lauterbach had made it clear that a dense network of general practitioners’ practices is not guaranteed in the long term. In many rural areas and in poorer districts it will not be possible to find a family doctor in the future. To counteract this, a law should create better working conditions. Among other things, upper remuneration limits (budgets) for general practitioners should be eliminated. In regions with many socially disadvantaged people, health kiosks are to be created as easily accessible advice centers for treatment and prevention.

KBV boss Gassen said: “We don’t need light care in so-called health kiosks, but rather appropriate structures for general practitioners and specialist practices.” KBV Vice President Stephan Hofmeister explained that, in principle, a branch with a practice is a good option for working independently and balancing family and career.

Nevertheless, the risk of the supply “bleeding out” has not been averted. Given the current poor conditions, it may be difficult to attract young colleagues. These included excessive bureaucracy and non-functioning digitalization.