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Reaction: Drop in GP training applications

Pulse revealed that applications for GP specialty training have dropped for the second year in a row, down 6.2% on 2014 - which itself ended with 12% of GP training posts remaining unfilled. Read the reaction here

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC education and workforce subcommittee

The BMA is concerned that a shortfall of GPs is adding to the pressure on GP services and impeding patient care. We are working with the NHS and HEE to find solutions to the issues, but we do believe that politicians of all parties need to provide additional support to enable more GPs to join the NHS workforce.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP

As we understand it, these figures cannot be directly compared with round one figures from last year. However, they do highlight how important it is that the College works closely with Health Education England to do whatever we can to boost applications ahead of the second round in March.

We have a chronic shortage of GPs in the UK and we need to ‘recruit, retain and return’ in order to increase the GP workforce in England by 8000 by the end of the next parliament.

It is important that we get the message out to medical students and foundation doctors, as early as possible, that being a GP is an exciting, diverse and challenging career path – with a broad range of opportunities available.

Last month we launched a national recruitment video to encourage junior doctors to consider a career in general practice – and we are also hosting a series of promotional events with HEE, in some of the most under-doctored areas across the country.

General practice is the cornerstone of our health service – we keep the NHS sustainable and safe for patients – but this can only continue if we have the resources and workforce to do our job properly.

We look forward to continuing our work with HEE, NHS England, the Department of Health, the BMA, and others, to implement the initiatives laid out in our joint 10-point plan to build the GP workforce that our patients – and our NHS - need and deserve.

Department of Health spokesperson

As we move more care out of hospital into the community, and continue to focus on prevention rather than cure, we will continually review the future workforce needs.  NHS England and Health Education England are working with the profession to encourage even more young, aspiring medical students to take up careers as GPs.

NHS England spokesperson

Primary care is the bedrock of the NHS and the Five-Year Forward View makes clear that it will play an even greater role in the future. The £10 million investment to expand the general practice workforce, announced last month, will kick start a range of initiatives to drive that forward so every community has GP services that best meets its health needs.’

Health Education England spokesperson

The 5,112 figure is correct for this year [’s GP training application rates]. This is not fill rate information – so you only have half the story here.

We cannot confirm recruitment information as we are half way through the process and a full comparison to previous rounds is not available.

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.

Readers' comments (4)


    I Think they're finally realising they up the creek without a paddle!!

    This time there's nothing they can do about it. Traditionally they could always import more doctors from abroad. Since however the RCGP have taken over training,numbers coming through as IMGs have fallen.
    Now I hear even IMGs that were the bedrock of inner city scut work are leaving for a better life abroad!!!

    VTS teaching sessions are beginning with grovelling sessions to convince future recruits to stay aboard the sinking ship!!!

    GPs may be beneath plebs in the UK but in the rest of the world their skills and clinical acumen are valued like gold!!!

    The imbeciles above need to realise they are the problem and not the solution to this timebomb

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Don't touch NHS GP training with a 10 foot barge pole, especially if you are a British BME or IMG, in my opinion. Save a life, your own.

    Almost every day I still get emails from desperate GP trainees who have been released/expelled with nothing to show for their 3.5 years of wasted NHS GP training.

    Work with a private independent GP, learn the trade and set up shop. Keep your confidence, dignity and wellbeing intact. All you need is an MBBS outside the NHS. You do not need to spend 2 years doing scut work in underfunded NHS hospitals where you are treated poorly if you blow the whistle on poor patient care or rotas that breach the EWTD as some honest Christianly GP trainees have or then spend 12-18 months in GP surgeries working as hard as a GP partner for half the pay and figuring out how to pass scrutiny of random actors and examiners in CSA, an exam behind closed doors with no CCTV footage to challenge career breaking decisions.

    To survive the £1.39 trillion public deficit, avoid public state jobs or even better emigrate?

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  • I can appreciate some of the sentients expressed above, but I cannot agree with them. As a long-serving GP trainer I have seen highs and lows in the state of GP recruitment. I still believe it is a great career to follow. There are undoubted stresses which need to be addressed, but it is still an exciting and varied job, and one which is hugely valued by the great majority of our patients. To answer a few points from the previous correspondent: Trainees do not work as hard as partners. They are paid well for what they do. The majority of non-UK graduates do well, and pass all their exams first time. The CSA is not run by "random" actors and assessors. All are well trained and benchmarked.
    Working in the private sector as an untrained GP is full of risk. You would be daft to do this. I can see the attraction of working on the Gold Coast however..
    GP is a great job if the government funds it properly. I am confident it has a bright future. I have worked hard today, but I know I have made a real difference to at least a few of my patients. Don't give up on it as a career choice. GP needs the best doctors. It is the hardest of all specialities to get right, but if you have the skills, it is hugely rewarding.

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  • CSA fiasco has hurt the RCGP more than it can ever imagine. Primary care relied on BMEs & IMGs to provide primary care in the inner cities, areas with the greatest need. Now it's not worth it.
    More broadly newer, GPs saw their trainers struggle & in some cases service provision took priority over training because of the insurmountable workload. Locum work seems to be the way forward.

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