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Independents' Day

GP training in turmoil with 'one application for every four roles'

Fewer than 40 graduates have applied for 148 GP training places in one area of England for the August 2015 intake, in the first indication that there has been a further ‘significant deterioration’ in this year’s GP training crisis, the BMA has claimed.

The figures, relating to the first round of recruitment for next year’s intake in the north east of England, were reported at the GPC meeting yesterday, following discussions between local GP leaders with health education bosses.

According to the GPC, only 18 applicants are expected to accept training roles.

However, Health Education England said that it had not yet published any figures and ‘did not recognise’ the figures cited by the BMA.

The GPC said that these figures are a ‘significant deterioration’ from last year, which itself saw a 15% reduction in training place applications.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC education, training and workforce subcommittee said: ‘The BMA has been warning for some time that there is a real and serious GP workforce crisis emerging across the country. The figures from the North East highlight this once again, with more than a hundred vacancies for GP trainee positions after round 1.

‘This is a significant deterioration from last year. This shortage is particularly worrying given that areas in the north have shown signs of being especially badly affected. With fewer GPs in post, this means less trained staff available to provide appointments and other services to patients.’

He added that the GPC was ‘working urgently with NHS England, Health Education England and the RCGP to tackle this crisis’.

But Dr Kasaraneni said: ‘We need to address the huge pressures facing GP practices and guaranteeing that GPs are given the resources to be able to deliver the services that patients deserve and need.’

But a spokesperson for HEE said: ‘We do not recognise these figures, which were not discussed with us. We have informed the BMA and asked them to retract their statement. Our Mandate from the Government requires us to provide 3,250 GP training places by 2016. We are well on course to achieve that number and are working hard on a variety of initiatives to ensure general practice is seen as an exciting and interesting career choice for trainees.’

This follows this year’s training programme, which saw 12% of roles remained unfilled, even after an unprecedented third round of recruitment was brought in.

The shortfall was partly attributed to a reduction in medical graduates applying for GP training roles, with this year’s applications falling by 15% on 2013 figures.

Health Education England this week published its Workforce Plan for England, which revealed it wants to train up 15% more GPs next year as part of a £5bn plan for the coming year. It also said it had commissioned hundreds of new ‘physician assistants’ roles to support GPs and that it wants to expand the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 15% by 2020.

This article was amended at 17:00 on 19 December 2014 to include the statement from Health Education England


Readers' comments (50)

  • I'm surprised it's as high as 40.

    But I am comforted by the fact that the GPC is ‘working urgently with NHS England, Health Education England and the RCGP to tackle this crisis’.

    All parties have had a brilliant track record so far so I'm sure they will continue to do such a magnificent job of solving a crisis they created. Never mind we need to think about the patients not the doctors.

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  • I am sorry, is it 4 applications for one place or is it the other way round ?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Can we call this incompetence? Of course , there are predisposing factors .
    Should the heads of these institutions and departments come out and bow in front of the public and apologise ?
    But then does the public understand how serious this is??

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  • Isn't it strange this comes on the same day as a report regarding the GMC attitude to doctors,especially GP's,and in the same week of a plea by none other than the chair of RCGP both verbally and in writing to young doctors to become GP's.Don't forget a report in last week's BMA about Dr Naegpaul trying to talk up GPland. Desperate times bring desperate measures but of the wrong kind.When will the people in high places wake up ?

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  • If you impose impossible Contracts and cut pay by 25% in 9 years while workloads go up 50%, I am surprised there are 40 totally altruistic trainees out there, who are happy to go bust if MPIG is suddenly cut. In fact, I actually think the DOH wants to shut down GPs and is deliberately making things so impossible that everyone will leave and no one will join. So, even they must be surprised there are 40 misguided folks out there. O Shucks is what they are saying. What a bunch of suckers!

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  • That's a great relief - I was worried there was a shortage of GP trainers - this way there should be 2-3 times as many trainers as Registrars - phew. I stepped down from being a GP trainer a few years ago partly because of the poor quality of the GP registrars coming through GP training scheme - schemes seemed to be taking on anybody who passed the warm friendly thoughtful personality test - but mainly because the 12 hr week day job over last 5-6 years had become a 13-14 hour 6-7 day all week job - there just wasn't any time for GP training. I think being single handed with a large list didn't help - in the olden days with bright clever motivated GP registrars who wanted to be GPs - rather than recent crop of failed hospital this and that - GP registrars were "money for old rope" who taught me a lot of recent medical science and I for my part showed them some of the old art of being a good GP. Patients loved seeing the GP registrars and that was a great practical help in seeing the acutely ill and walking wounded who otherwise end up as extras - but freed me up to teach the Registrar some of the dark arts of effective consultations and guessing what is wrong with folk by listening to what they tell us and putting most of the science and North american test everything culture to one side.

    In all of this its the poor public who have suffered from the CinDem governments GP kicking via their Daily Mail Fleet Street spokes people shrinking GP take home pay and "more work for less money" culture we've drifted into.

    Solutions - stop the GP kicking - unless the stories are true that is and not just made up by some Tory spin Dr - up GP take home pay to match hospital consultants and reduce GP workload

    Obvious enit

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  • Vinci Ho

    Yes. Suddenly this week , they all seem to be very 'caring'. May be it is Christmas. May be it is the countdown to next GE.
    As I always say, one day of politics is too long.......

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  • I am not surprised to read this update on the applications for August 2015. The application process itself is far from straightforward. I submitted my application from a remote mountain post in the Himalayas (which should be perfectly acceptable) and was rather disappointed when it was rejected and I was given four days and one final chance to get everything correct. The deadline I was given was also before the application process closed. The issue was regarding the Alternate Certificate – I am nearly 7 years out of Foundation Training and so I had to get a Consultant to sign a new form to replace my FACD5.2. I actually completed this form in advance in July and uploaded to my registration page. However, in this time, the form was changed and no old versions were allowed; even when I explained my situation. I did manage to contact my Consultant via email and satellite phone however when we downloaded the form, it was unformatted and rejected on this basis. When I got a final version of the form completed, my Consultant unfortunately sent an email informing me amongst other things, that should I require a reference (he is the first of the three listed on my application), he would inform the NRO / GPST recruitment that I have been very disorganised. So another potential issue with successfully applying to a location within the deanery that even at present is underfilled. In addition to all of this, the GPST Stage 2 exam opens two weeks tomorrow and we are still not able to apply for a sitting at one of the Pearson centres. I find this a little disconcerting that as we approach Christmas, I can’t even ensure my revision time frame – will I get the 9th January as planned?? (All other days I have opted for locum work and I’d rather save my weekends). Please make it easier for those of us that are dedicated to the cause; I have emailed the NRO and the local deanery regarding my situation and there is just no stretch. It’s a shame – they are potentially losing good candidates!

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  • As independent contractor status and the benefits of autonomy disappear, who wants to have trained for 10 years or more to become a £55K salaried GP stressed to high heaven and being on call 24/7? Shafted by the Government. Shafted by the RCGP. We have been failed by our professional leaders.

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  • Has anybody actually managed to pin HEE down, and ask them to produce concrete plans to sort this mess out?

    So far, they've only managed to produce a single GP-led report, which they then dismissed as too 'GP-centric', and have actively sought to bury.

    This crisis has been a long-term in the making, and there is no indication that they have a handle on things - or any robust plans to improve the situation.

    Perhaps Pulse could FoI them, and find out more?

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