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Independents' Day

Half of GP training places 'unfilled in some areas'

Exclusive Half of GP training places may remain unfilled in some parts of the UK this year, according to shocking official figures seen by Pulse.

An official performance report published yesterday by Health Education England suggested the North East of England had filled just 51% of its places. The situation was not much better in the East Midlands, which had only filled 57%.

But after Pulse enquired about the figures, HEE removed the document from its website citing ‘issues with data quality’.

Health education bosses have refused to release figures about the number of GP training places that have been filled, despite there being just a few weeks before new GP trainees start their placements.

But Pulse revealed last month that across the UK a fifth of training places remained unfilled following two rounds of recruitment, after obtaining figures from the Scottish Government.

This new performance report from Health Education England comes as the body confirmed that it would run a third round of recruitment for GP training – as introduced for the first time last year.

The figures suggest that in some areas the fill rate is much worse than last year, with gaps of up to 49%.

The Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Thames Valley regions have filled their entire GP training post allocations, but the West Midlands, Wessex and North West all had low uptakes, ranging from 67% to 71%.

This marks the second year running that a third round has been required as applications to GP training places have been dwindling in recent years, with the north of England especially badly affected by the recruitment crisis. It also comes as health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently rowed back on the Conservative Government’s election promise of creating 5,000 new GPs by 2020, by admitting this was ‘the maximum’ achievable.

A HEE spokesperson said that, following Pulse’s enquiry, inaccuracies had been discovered in the data and, as a result, the figures would no longer be discussed at the board meeting. He said: ‘The data in the paper are not accurate, and HEE will publish accurate data on the GP fill rate in due course, once a third round of recruitment has taken place.

‘We held a third round of recruitment last year, helping us to fill more posts, and it makes sense to do this again to help increase the numbers of doctors in general practice and further improve services for patients.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC’s education, training and workforce committee, said: ‘There are clearly some areas that have worse crises than others, but even in the areas where there is 100% fill it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be enough GPs to meet the need.

‘If there aren’t enough people applying for GPs courses we can’t just conjure them up – there needs to be a change in rhetoric by the Government to show they want to reduce the workload. Unless they do that there’s no way to entice new doctors into thinking that general practice is a sustainable career. We have been screaming out that this issue needs to be addressed.’

Dr George Rae, chief executive officer of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC said: ‘I’ve been a GP for a long time, but the profession is in the most serious crisis I’ve known in my career.

‘Many partnerships are on the verge of implosion – locums are not easy to find. The North East finds it difficult to attract people in, but once they are here they do tend to stay for a long time. The problems are all about workload, mostly non-resourced workload.

‘I think some kind of devolution of political decision making in healthcare, as is happening in Manchester, could help with local recruitment here, because local people would have a better understanding of how to address the recruitment problems.’

GP training places: Where are the gaps?

Kent, Surrey and Sussex - 100% (248/248)

Thames Valley - 100% (115/115)

London - 98% (435/443)

South West - 95% (249/262)

East of England - 91% (292/320)

Scotland - 79% (240/305)*

North West - 71% (337/478)

Yorkshire & Humber - 77% (228/295)

Wessex - 69% (97/140)

West Midands - 67% (233/350)

East Midlands - 57% (159/280)

North East - 51% (99/193)

Source: Health Education England board paper breaking down the uptake to GP ST1 places in 2015 so far Please note: HEE has said there are ‘quality issues’ with these data

*Source: Scottish Government

Readers' comments (33)

  • When will they get it? Sort out workload and workforce will follow. Fancy videos of people holding hands, signing scripts, and sitting in meetings is not going to entice the next generation.

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  • Jeremy Hunt has a plan---the secret diary of Jeremy Hunt aged 46 (but with a brain of a 13 year old) is really simple.

    How can I make trainees become GPs?? Hmmm
    Either I have to treat GPs better (no that is out of the question, or.......) Got it......let's start attacking hospital doctors and treat them so badly that even General practice will start to look attractive again...................simples!! the Daily Mail editor....arrange secret coffee at the Savoy hotel and discuss media campaign to slag off junior doctors and consultants...try to get photos of "evil consultants" with photoshop Bentleys in the background to make to public believe that they are all monsters.....
    eventually get all these cheeky b'stard doctors to work in slave shifts for 40K per year while supervising armies or health care workers seeing the patients....then get a knighthood and I am a multi-millionaire anyway!!!

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  • Hunt.......Damn media chums who I have helped to protect from regulation have now hacked my own phone and released my "secret diaries" to some bloody greedy little GPs!

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  • When Wessex has empty slot s you know there is real trouble! One of the nicest training regions around

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  • Hunt........No I don't accept the figures.....we need a new plan......I know phone the Daily a story that GPs are criminal gansters who have been stealing all the NHS money and using it to help immigrants cross the channel tunnel to prove that they are all non patriotic b'stards....maybe a photo of a GP with an immigrant, and aleft wing union man and someone on benefits will do it.....get it in tomorrows Daily Mail and get them baying for GP blood......winner.

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  • Shocking, in the sense that "I am shocked that night has followed day", "I am truly shocked that bears do their business in the woods", and "I am deeply, deeply shocked that the Pope is a Catholic"

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  • Why would anyone sane wish to enter a madhouse that is under the tender care of Cameron's demolition squad.
    GP, as a speciality, will not exist in a couple of years so our youngster's are doing the right thing staying away.

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  • The number of training posts that have been filled this year is the right number required to help fill the shortage of GPs in Australia and Canada annually. Also, the RCGP is doing a good job of providing MRCGP degrees to fully trained GPs so that their relocating abroad will be a smooth journey.

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  • The North East finds it difficult to attract people in, but once they are here they do tend to stay for a long time.

    That's because once you're on the housing ladder in the north east, you're stuck here.

    avoid medicine/gp in general - get a nice job in a bank.. down south.

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  • Run the NHS down and blame GPs. Hand out titles to the RCGP and BMA 'representatives' and the GMC people for 'services to medicine'. Privatise. Job done.

    GPs will be better off in the private sector. The job is worth at least £200k a year.

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