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GP registrar applicants below par

Deaneries are receiving record numbers of applicants for GP registrar places, but are struggling to fill them because of

a shortage of good-quality

candidates.

More than 9,000 applications have been received for registrar posts starting in August 2006, a 58 per cent rise on last year. The increase mirrors a similar rise the year before.

But at least five deaneries

underspent their budgets last year, partly because they did not fill all their registrar

posts.

Yorkshire deanery reported it had to leave posts vacant in its most recent recruitment round because of 'a lack of suitable candidates'.

Minutes from a West Yorkshire Workforce Development Confederation meeting reveal-ed the shortfall had led to an underspend which would have 'implications on funding'.

At least four other deaneries ­ Severn and Wessex, North Central London, Eastern and Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland ­ also reported underspends last year.

The problem has left deaneries facing a battle to ensure their budgets are at least maintained and not cut to the level of last year's spending.

Deaneries have already been forced to axe flexible careers schemes, cut administration staff and make GP tutors redundant this year because of cuts in Government funding and delays in being told their budgets.

Further cuts next year would deal another blow to GP

recruitment.

Dr Jas Bilkhu, postgraduate GP dean for the Trent deanery, said it 'never had a problem with quantity of applicants'.

But many applicants failed to meet the required standards, and often candidates' demands did not match the rotations available for training, he said.

Overseas candidates accounted for most of the rise, but the number of UK-trained candidates has also grown.

Dr Andrew Thomson, chair of the GPC registrars subcommittee and a GP registrar in Forfar, Angus, said the application process could be unnecessarily difficult.

He said: 'There are areas where the application processes are stringent and require levels of knowledge that perhaps should be gained during training rather than required to apply for training.'

But he added: 'I think we need to separate the desperate need for more GPs from the diminution of quality.

'We should not lower our standards.'

rfinch@cmpinformation.com

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