An analysis shows that the shortage of GPs in England will only get worse. More than one-fourth of these posts could be vacant in a decade.
According to the Health Foundation, the 4,200 current shortfall could increase to over 10,000 by 2030-31.
According to the think tank, the government will not be able to increase the number GPs while demand will rise, creating an even greater shortfall.
The government has committed to recruiting 6,000 additional GPs by 2024.
Ministers admit that they have difficulty achieving this.
According to current trends, the analysis indicated that the number of people entering the profession is on the rise. However, this will be offset by GPs retiring and shifting towards part-time work.
In the worst case scenario, more than half of GP positions could be vacant.
The analysis indicated that the number of GP nurse practitioners is unlikely to rise, but the drive to recruit other health professions into general practice (such as pharmacists or physios) will give a boost.
However, this will not suffice to meet the demand. Demand is expected to rise by a fifth between 2030 and 31 largely due to the aging population.
Anita Charlesworth is the director of research at Health Foundation. She said that the findings are not exclusive to England and that pressures can be felt throughout the UK.
She stated, "It is sobering that over 10 years things are going to get worse than better."
"It is crucial that the government acts to protect general practice. It must not get trapped in a vicious circle of rising workload driving staff away, which in turn creates more pressure on staff and fuels more departures."
Professor Martin Marshall, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs said that the forecasts were "bleak" with the worst-case scenario being a "disaster".
He said, "Our members have informed us that they don't have the time to provide the care they desire for patients - and the patients need."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care stated that record numbers of GPs are now being trained.
She said, "We are enormously grateful to GPs for the care they provide patients, and we are working hard at supporting and growing the workforce."