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NHS England to look at whether 'right individuals' are becoming GPs

NHS England is to look at whether the NHS is recruiting the right kind of GPs to ensure better management of long-term conditions, its head of primary care commissioning has told Pulse.

Dr David Geddes, head of primary care commissioning at NHS England, said that while CCGs are showing willingness to align the workforce to work preventatively with patients with long-term conditions, there are barriers in the primary care systems to achieving this goal, which has been set out as one of the key mandates for NHS England to work towards.

The news comes as NHS England has kicked off a review of primary care that will lead to a national strategy being set out later this year, with Dr Geddes confirming that looking at the GP workforce and its professional development would form part of that process.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, he said: ‘I think there is a willingness from CCGs to be able to align the workforce to help manage people with long term conditions more effectively.

‘[We will look at] all workforce in terms of primary care… Is the current workforce being trained? Are we recruiting the right individuals for going into medicine? Are we training them in the right way to be able to be doctors of the future, working in the community? Or do we want to change that training culture in order to make sure that there is sufficient resource in primary care, so that we don’t articulate a strategy which we are then unable to deliver because we have the wrong workforce that are being trained in the wrong way.’

He concluded: ‘We definitely need to be working with Health Education England in terms of anticipating and having a workforce strategy that is aligned with the NHS strategy, and indeed the primary care strategy going forward.’

But Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, deputy head of the GPC subcommittee on education, training and workforce, said the key priority for NHS England should be to restore general practice as an attractive option for medical graduates.

She said: ‘We are failing to recruit the first-choice candidates because graduates will not opt for a career in general practice. We have a real struggle with recruitment into general practice, with failure even to recruit in the second round. And with the changing demographic of the workforce becoming more female, you have to recruit 2.4 new GPs for each GP currently retiring. You can see that we have a perfect storm building.’

‘Until we grapple with the whole issue of patient demand versus what we can actually provide with practice income we are going to continue to have a recruitment crisis in general practice and I do not understand the Government’s stalwart drive to stifle general practice. We need investment and resources to be able to deliver what 21st century general practice should look like and at the moment it is just not happening.’

Other areas of review for NHS England will include looking at shrinking the QOF and opening up the GP contract to allow for more local commissioning with input from CCGs.

GP training is already facing an overhaul after the Government signed off RCGP plans for it to be extended to four years last year, although some critics have warned that a qualification time lag may worsen the workforce crisis unless its implementation is staggered.

Readers' comments (22)

  • Its not about who will go into GP any longer its about who wants to. Unless the job becomes more enticing the next cohort of GP trainees will be no more than overseas graduates and those that have failed MRCP/FRCS exams etc. Not those that are vocationally driven to be GPs from the outset.

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  • I strongly disagree with the comments posted by anonymous @3.06. It is exactly this kind of attitude which is not helping GP profession. I am sure we all appreciate the valuable minor surgery services provided by GPs with surgical training background ( even though they might have left their training midway for whatever reasons ). We need to use this skill mix to the benefit of patients.

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  • We urgently need to understand where medical trainees are going. There are recruitment crises across the board. No-one wants to be a physician, work in ED, or do psychiatry either. I've sat in despair at several nearly empty recruitment panels, wondering how deep to scrape the barrel.

    So are they ALL leaving the country....?

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  • After 28 years of trying to be a GP I realised I was not the right individual to be one of Dr Geddes GP's so I retired instead at 55 years of age.

    Best thing I ever did I must say and I must thank the likes of the Dr Geddes of this world to make me see the light. I am most grateful. Off to Greece to get some sun I think.

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  • @Anonymous | 15 May 2013 3:06pm

    You're spot on.Every VTS group will have its fair share of failed overseas graduates who see general practice as a fall back option.The future of general practice is female and foreign.

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  • I thought the whole point of having VTS entrance criteria and membership exams were to ensure right person become a GP - or at least to exclude the wrong person.

    I write this as our youngest partner just announced he will be leaving our partnership to emigrate to Australia. He can't see the futur of GP in UK being sustainable. To be honest if I had no wife/kids I would do the same.

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  • Lets face it boys and girls, General Practice is no longer a popular career choice and it will only get worse.

    My advice to young doctors as a recently retired long standing GP? DO NOT BECOME A GP IN THE UK.

    Look at overseas posts where the sun shines both on you and your future careers!

    UK General Practice is dead in the water and should be avoided at all costs

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  • The total disconnect between resources and targets/ demand would drive anyone away. Add to this heavy workloads and constant criticism, who would want to work as a GP. Besides which, take home pay per consultation is now between £ 2.50 to £ 3.50 - which means an awful lot of work to earn your pay. I am saying goodbye and off to OZ.

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  • It seems to me that the last 20yrs of government interference with professional life of many professions but most evident to me in the medical profession's activity, has resulted in a deprofessionalised demoralised workforce whose only hope is emigration, retirement or death.
    I find absolutely staggering that we have come to this.
    I can only presume that the government cannot recognise that if you promise the earth 24/7 to the general public they will want it. Anyone with half a brain could see where this would lead but they carried on regardless.
    This country is looking at very dark days in the health of its population both in terms of its physical health and its financial health related to physical health but I fear that the process has gone too far now.
    The only hope is that someone rises to the top of the pile and leads, firstly GPs and ultimately all doctors, out of this mire and tells the country how much it can afford and agrees to deliver it.

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