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Independents' Day

Eligible applicants turned away from GP training despite doctor shortage

Around 50% of eligible applicants were turned away from two GP training schemes in North Wales in the past two years, doctors leaders have discovered.

A freedom of information request by North Wales LMC showed that in both Wrexham and Bangor, applicants who had been deemed suitable for GP training were forced to look for alternative options despite significant GP shortages in the area.

In 2017, figures collected by the LMC showed 22 junior doctors chose GP training in Wrexham as their first choice but of 11 who met the eligibility criteria, only 7 were offered a place.

Figures from Bangor showed a similar pattern with 24 applying, 16 of whom met the criteria but only 12 offered a training place.

And interim figures for initial application rounds in 2018 showed the same proportions of eligible trainees not being offered a place.

Dr Sara Bodey, North Wales LMC chair said it was frustrating to learn that 50% of eligible applicants were being turned away when the area was in desperate need of GPs.

‘If we have clear evidence that we have people who want to work in the area and we’re sending them away, that needs to be addressed,’ she said.

The LMC requested the information after hearing anecdotal stories of trainees being refused a place and instead opting for training in England or even choosing a different specialty.

When they had asked why more places were not available they had been told the demand was not there.

Dr Bodey added: ‘The bottom line is that no one really knows what happens to the trainees that don’t get a place on their first choice scheme.

‘I do think this is the sort of information that should be being collected though by those involved directly in the recruitment process.'

She added: ‘In Wrexham, there have been difficulties with recruitment and practices having to hand back contracts so to have people who have chosen to come here being turned away is frustrating and I hope that is now being recognised.’

The Welsh Government announced several strategies last year to improve GP training uptake.

Third-year medical students in Cardiff are being offered the option to spend a year in general practice in rural areas to boost the number choosing to train as a GP.

And 20 new medical places were being offered to train doctors in North Wales to address concerns that the region was not attracting enough GPs.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Our Train Work Live campaign has resulted in a significant increase in the number of trainee GPs coming to Wales, along with improved fill rates across the three GP speciality training schemes in north Wales.

‘We’ve agreed a collaborative approach between Cardiff and Bangor University, which will ensure that more medical students study in north Wales, and also provide a pathway for doctors being trained completely in north Wales.’ 

Readers' comments (6)

  • Look at what deaneries (and ultimately central government) has done to training budgets. Our area has more trainees and less training time when compared to 3 years ago.
    A crazy combination.

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  • Sincerely hope some would-be trainees are turned away given the quality of some local trainees recently. Marked decline over the past few years. Accepting people into training who are unlikely to pass is immoral.

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  • Dr Bodey added: ‘The bottom line is that no one really knows what happens to the trainees that don’t get a place on their first choice scheme.

    No Dr Bodey,it is not

    What are those,trained at taxpayer expense,doing five years later ?

    How many are practising clinicians ?

    How many are struggling ?

    How many regret their career choice ?

    When the Welsh assembly government funds the deanery, to train hypothecated future clinical GP's, does it understand what it is purchasing, and does it understand what it actually gets, and does it have the the technical ability to recognise the difference ?

    Do the government and deanery agree as to the purpose pf GP training ?

    There are many questions,unlikely to be addressed, fundamentally because the non medical political purchasers do not understand the issues.

    The fate of those who never enter the process is of concern,on the grounds of compassion ,but certainly not fundamental.

    Focus on the needs of the service.

    Focus on your assessment of the technical competence of the deanery .

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  • I think Stelvio @6.58pm makes a very pertinent observation.My impression of the GP trainers (admittedly based on my contact with 3, all based in one surgery) is also not one which is glowing with praise. For a questionable trainee to be elevated to the level of cutting the mustard requires substantial input, including thorough scrutiny of their work by someone able to appreciate the subtleties of clinical medicine underpinned by excellence in examination techniques, rather than having the trainee flounder unobserved in the role of shoddy service provision, with the real learning which sticks resulting from some significant error which comes to light due to its egregious nature.

    If the governments aim to shift more work into primary care from the secondary arena comes to pass, the massive inadequacy of GPs to handle this competently will become more evident to all, not just those who work within the system.

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  • As GPs we do not want this transfer of work anyway.It is only happening because we are seen a cheap.As the saying goes buy cheap pay twice.Sadly the government doesn't head advice or evidence.So this work load dump will continue.The funding of primary care is also woefully inadequate for this shift.Add to that in 5 yrs 1/3rd of the GP workforce will be gone this piecemeal attempt to train replacements id due to failure.The government are trying to manage are market.There attempts are doomed.It is sad watching a race to the bottom.

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