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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP job-hunting crisis as vacancies crash

By Christian Duffin

Job opportunities for GPs have fallen by more than a quarter in England and halved in Wales, official figures show.

NHS Information Centre statistics show the proportion of all GP posts vacant fell from 1.1% to 0.8% between March 2006 and March 2007. In Wales it halved from 0.8% in 2006 to 0.4%.

The figures mean there are two-thirds fewer vacancies in England than two years ago.

Experts blame the fall on more practices taking on practice nurses instead of GPs, and cutting posts because the out-of-hours opt-out had reduced overall workload.

And the Information Centre said some practices were prevented from taking on new doctors by a lack of space.

The figures vindicate the fears of Dr Andrew Thomson, chair of the GPC's registrars sub-committee, who told Pulse last month that graduates face a ‘job desert'.

Dr Arthur Hibble, director of the Eastern Deanery, said there were more GPs in the system in England now.

Dr Malcolm Lewis, director of postgraduate general practice education in Wales, said this was not the case there, ‘but practices may be taking on more staff such as practice nurses so they do not have to take on a partner'.

Practice workload had also been cut because GPs opted out of out-of-hours, he added.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said GPs were changing practices less now that being a partner was more attractive. ‘You do not have to commit to a fixed number of hours in the morning and the afternoon any more, or to out-of-hours care,' he said.

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