The NHS is finding filling vacancies for GPs and midwives in England tougher than for any other job within the public healthcare sector, figures have revealed.

Long-term job vacancy rates have dropped for most NHS roles but GPs and midwives continue to be difficult to recruit and the number of unfilled posts has increased.

In its GP Practice Vacancies survey 2010, the NHS Information Centre showed its number of unfilled GP jobs is about 2.1% (125), compared with 1.6% (79) last year.

At the same time vacancy rates for medical and dental staff, which includes hospital doctors and dentists, have fallen to 4.4% from 5.2% a year ago.

And a three-month vacancy rate for midwives, which smooths out any seasonal fluctuations in employment levels, has shown unfilled jobs have risen to 1.2% (255) compared to 1% (191) the previous year.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “These survey figures show a slight dip in long-term vacancies for most of the main staff groups in the English NHS.

“However midwives and GPs seem to be the exception to the general pattern. Such findings will be of use to the NHS in showing which job roles appear to be difficult to fill.”

Jon Skewes, director of employment relations and development at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Any midwifery post remaining empty is a concern because we have experienced a huge surge in the birthrate over recent years and midwife numbers have still to catch up.

“A vacant post means there is a midwife missing who could be helping to provide safe and high quality care. The government identified a need for 3,000 more midwives by 2012, and this must be delivered.”