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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Fall in the number of doctors becoming GPs

The number of doctors joining general practice has stagnated after five years of continuous growth, latest NHS workforce statistics reveal.

Between 2004 and 2005 the number of new GPs who were not registrars fell from 2,930 to 2,864. The fall followed a near doubling of 'joiners' in the previous four years.

A drop in the number of women joining general practice, particularly those aged between 35 and 45, was a significant factor in the figure.

Workforce experts warned there could be further falls because of funding cuts to the flexible careers scheme and other return-to-work initiatives.

Dr Maureen Baker, honorary secretary of the RCGP and a member of its workforce committee, said the number of joiners was a vast improvement on five years ago, but more needed to be done.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said the Government risked undermining the gains it had made via the new contract by failing to address the changing needs of the workforce.

'There are lots of other things to do around education and particularly the rising numbers of women doctors and they are easy mechanisms to get doctors back into the workforce.'

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