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Independents' Day

Health minister provokes anger with claims more graduates joining general practice

A Government health minister provoked outrage on social media this week when he suggested that the number of graduates joining general practice has increased under his party’s governance.

Conservative MP and former NHS hospital doctor Dr Dan Poulter tweeted on Wednesday that the current Government had produced 1050 ‘working and training GPs’ between 2010 and 2013. He added that more doctors than before were choosing to become GPs.


Yet as Pulse reported earlier this month, health education leaders have recently witnessed the country’s worst recruitment round in seven years, with only 2,630 graduates entering training in England - the lowest number since figures started to be collected in 2007. In some areas, vacancy rates stand around 40%.

Meanwhile, health education managers in the south west of England have arranged a crisis summit to tackle acute problems in the GP workforce, while other CCGs around the country are being forced to offer ‘golden hellos’ and other perks (including overseas placements and MBA funding) to attract more doctors to general practice and encourage those already practicing to remain.  

Dr Poulter’s comments elicited angry responses on social media, with several doctors taking to Twitter to accuse the MP of misleading the public.

Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee and executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said in a series of tweets to the MP that the number of doctors leaving general practice were ‘far greater’ than those joining.



Fellow GPC member Dr Krishna Kasereneni tweeted that general practice would be ‘doomed’ if the Government failed to acknowledge the scale of the crisis threatening general practice.


Dr Poulter’s tweet came in the same week as he told Parliament that over 500 GP practices had closed in the last five years.

The MP did not respond to any of the tweets, nor to Pulse’s enquiries as to the source of the statistics.


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Readers' comments (10)

  • needs GPCOG assessment

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  • To be fair, it says more doctors looking after patients as "gps". Maybe he meant global positioning satellites?

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  • Vinci Ho

    There are three types of lies, lies , damned lies and statistics
    Give the guy a break , folks. It is an very advanced knowledge of how to tell lies beautifully. The guy is learning every day......

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  • I remember him saying he worked really long hours as a junior Dr, after working time directive came into force! I would not like to impugn his honesty

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  • Just looking at WTE and doctor patient ratio is wrong maths. More accurate is consultation per doctor year. Now there is a horror. Double the number of consults per doctor in the last 12 years.
    Therein lies the true problem.

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  • mmm ...

    from the makers of 'more graduates joining but numbers are down'

    comes ...

    'we realise the NHS is under stress due to massive demand so we will introduce massive disruptive and costly reorganisation'

    'we know people want to spend more money on front line services so we will spend billions on office staff redundancies and re-hire them'

    'PCTs are too big and local management is better so we will create CCGs and let them merge and then conform to national guidelines'

    'to better deal with increasing a&e attendences we will close a&e's'

    'we recognise GPs are under pressure and value their input so we will cut funding and increase paperwork'

    'we know people want local services and we agree so we will force local small surgeries to close and move to larger less accessible areas.'

    George Orwell would be amazed!

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  • i heard this guy on radio 4 news earlier this year.i had parked near a wall where creatures on it reminded me of the word slimy.

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  • is he still registered?

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  • He was referred the gmc previously for bringing the profession into disrepute in this role. They weren't interested. I personally have more respect for the residue around my plughole. I feel he has sold every doctor down the river and is deserves to be held to account for this

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