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Training bosses introduce further round of GP trainee recruitment in 'desperate' bid to plug shortfalls

Exclusive: Health education managers are running an unprecedented third recruitment round for GP trainees in the autumn as part of a ‘knee-jerk’ bid to fill the gaping hole in trainee numbers, Pulse can reveal.

This is the first time that graduates have been given a third chance to apply for GP training posts, and comes after Pulse revealed that as many as 40% of training places were going unfilled in some parts of the country.

The GPC said that the plan for a third round of intake is a ‘knee-jerk, short-term’ solution and that there are few graduates remaining who could fill the places.

The announcement of the third round comes as Health Education England said it was running a ‘pre-GP’ year spent in hospitals for trainees who failed to pass the assessment stage for GP training, while the GPC accused HEE of ‘burying’ a report on a long-term strategy for increasing GP recruitment.

The Department of Health mandate for HEE requires them to ensure 3,250 graduates enter general practice every year by 2016, which in itself represented a one year extension to the original deadline, after a surprise 15% drop in applications meant they were unlikely to achieve the 2015 target.

Pulse revealed that HEE was way short of its figures this year, with only 2,564 of positions filled in England, representing 87% of those training posts available, which is a decrease onthe 2,764 positions filled in August 2013.

A spokesperson for HEE said: ‘We are holding a third round of GP recruitment this year. It is the first time this has been done and is part of a range of measures we are taking to help increase the number of GP trainees in line with our mandate target to provide 3,250 places by 2016.’

‘Other measures include a review of the GP recruitment process, development of a pre-GP year for prospective applicants and careers advice for foundation doctors and medical students.’

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Cornwall, told Pulse that standards shouldn’t be allowed to slip in order to plug gaps in recruitment, and that a Government drive to promote general practice was needed.

She said: ‘What we want is quality general practitioners, and we need to make sure that what we do is we continue with the same high standards necessary to actually recruit into general practice.’

‘My concern, obviously, is that to me this smacks of desperation. And actually it’s not the way to solve the recruitment crisis we have in general practice, they need to think about addressing the problem and this will not address that.’

‘It is a knee-jerk, short-term, inadequate solution to a much bigger problem. We need to start addressing the reasons why people no longer want to train as a GP, and why – once they do – a significant number are leaving.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC trainee subcommittee told Pulse he had his doubts about the scheme’s effectiveness, as there was no surplus of medical students waiting to choose a speciality.

Dr Kasaraneni said: ‘If it works, fantastic, but somehow I don’t think it will. My understanding of it is that all the specialty placements are filled, but I think psychiatry and general practice are significantly under-recruited. If you look at the sheer numbers, general practice is by far the worst.’

‘And if there’s no interest already in the normal rounds, there’s not going to be that many people who are out of sync who decide to go for the third in the middle of the year.’

‘Since 2007 when modernising medical career s happened, general practice hasn’t had a third round… I don’t think it will work, but they can try.’

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  • Krishna Kasaraneni

Readers' comments (43)

  • Nhsfatcat

    If GPs were that much more expensive than another system, private companies would have cottoned on to this long time ago and not demanded GP referrals for patients who are privately insured. They already know that we will cut out the wheat from the chaff, sought what can be sorted in primary care and refer the rest appropriately. They don't want poeple to spend their profits no more than the government wants unfettered access to secondary care.

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  • You're missing the point. The Govt has been led to believe that nurses can do what GPs do, but cheaper. The Govt is not expecting nurses to refer any more patients or cost to hospital. GPs and hospitals know the truth but hospitals have a vested interest in getting more referrals and it is former hospital managers and hospital doctors who have the jobs that idiotic Govt ministers listen to.

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  • Nhsfatcat

    and Prof Field, Dr Geddes?

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  • Nhsfatcat

    and Dr Dan.

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  • Are in the minority. Anyway, would you say their recent actions and pronouncements have been helpful to or understanding of general practice?

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  • Nhsfatcat

    No and the point is well taken. No GP, no gatekeeper. How many millions of consultations start with i want to be referred and end up with GP managing case? The Government and cronies do not have to worry about the NHS they can afford healthcare and they see the model as 1) i want to see a Doctor when I want to and 2) The doctor had better be a specialist. So GP management of a presenting complain is an anathama to ther wants.

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  • Dont fall for this juniors. Don't fall into a dying specialty with no self respect, no peer respect, no public respect, long hours, low pay and the need for risk taking and stress of uncertainty. You are all worth far more than that. Wish I had seen that. I have already wasted a year in GP training and will now have to hope a hospital specialty will have me back. Judging by how useless GPs are perceived to be by their hospital colleagues, I am not sure what they will say...

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  • I agree with many of the points on here. Increasing being a GP is being a house officer for hospital consultants and a thankless task.
    The message does seem to be getting through to junior doctors.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Yup! Stay clear younger colleagues. Its a trap!

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  • Missing obvious problem here - filling spaces with candidates who were not good enough, or did want to enter GP in the first place will just lead to unsuitable trainees who are ill suited to be GPs.

    There will be another CSA fiasco as fail rates soar again. The gap may also fill with non English speaking candidates, and this was a disaster last time, and we have only just cleared the back log of poor candidates who jammed up the VTS schemes previously.

    This very sensibly led to a cut in recruitment in most deaneries as there were simply not the right calibre of entrants applying.

    Training practices cannot cope with another wave of Trainees in Difficulty.

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