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Labour pledges to train 5,000 new GPs a year

The Labour Party has promised to train an extra 1,500 GPs a year if elected.

Announcing the policy at the Labour Party conference this weekend, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he hoped this would relieve the burden on GPs.

In 2015, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt set a target of recruiting 5,000 GPs by 2020. Health secretary Matt Hancock also committed to this, and said he would ‘look’ at setting a new deadline for the the goal.

However, the latest GP workforce data showed that the NHS has lost 576 full-time equivalent, fully qualified GPs over the past year.

Mr Ashworth, said: ‘We all know how difficult it is to get a GP appointment, trying to get through on the phone and then forced to wait weeks to see a family doctor.

'But I also know the pressures our GPs are under day in, day out. We’ve lost just over 1,600 full-time GPs under the Tories and GPs tell me they are overworked, exhausted and pushed to the brink.’

He added: ‘Labour will expand GP training places by 1,500, raising the number of places to 5,000 a year.’

'I’ve had GPs tell me when they get home, they burst into tears and they're worried that they're not providing the safe level of care that their patients deserve, that it can feel like they're seeing up to 60 patients a day. I think if we can recruit more GPs, we can be providing more GP appointments.'

He also told Pulse: 'Of course, things are not going to be resolved overnight but it's important that we’re putting the investment in now. It's important to put in investment into capital and infrastructure in primary care as I’ve seen GPs operating out of portacabins.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP Committee chair, said: ‘We are desperately short of doctors across the NHS and the BMA has long been calling for more staff to ease the pressures currently facing our NHS. The Labour promise to increase the number of GP trainees in England by 50% is a welcome move.

‘As this announcement rightly points out, keeping GPs is just as important as recruiting them so we also need to see plans to address the issues leading to so many GPs leaving the profession or suffering high levels of stress and to support our existing and experienced workforce, not only to provide high-quality patient care, but to help mentor and guide the next generation of family doctors.’

Readers' comments (19)

  • This won't be possible until the MRCGP exam is reformed. At present the widely criticised CSA exam appears to be one of the main barriers of entry into the profession.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Oh dear
    These figures , 5000, 6000 whatever , has become new political terminology for these guys to play with .
    I leave you with your crystal clear mentality to make a judgement.
    God bless general practice......

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  • David Banner

    What is this political obsession with the number 5000? Never 4000 nor 6000, always 5000. Is it just a neat round number, or did it please a focus group? Or perhaps Hunt, Hancock and Ashworth suffer from a Messiah Complex regarding the NHS and are channeling “The Feeding of the 5000” with 2 loaves and 5 fishes (which would at least explain their ludicrous promises of inflated outcomes from pitifully inadequate resources).

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  • a gun to the head is the only way you'll get 5000 more young sensible Docs to want to enter GP land.

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  • For some doctors in will be the quickest route to complete training and emigrate for better quality of life, schools etc so these places may be used!

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  • forget training, start retaining...
    catchy innit?!

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  • it takes a minimum of 9 years to train a new GP from scratch - the problem is the here and now, if you dont address the workload issue, poor pay and pension mess there is nothing to stop us from retiring early nor any new GP staying. Plus it will have to be paid for out of raised taxes so why would i want to work for 9 years, pay more tax for something that is not going to benefit me anyway except as a patient, knowing full well the longer i work the earlier I die in retirement. why not invest in the people who are here now, make the job better and more people will want to do the job.

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  • The CSA is an internationally recognised to be an excellent exam. Largely because of ill-informed criticism it has been subject to granular analysis and is always found to be beyond all expectations.
    Commentators on this website (and some of the journalists I am afraid) endlessly choose to fail to look at the emerging complex evidence on differential attainment.
    And if you don't like this then come back at me and explain the AKT.

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  • Not only a magic money tree a magic GP tree as well, amazing and very very delusional.

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  • Hahahahahahahahahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahahahahahahahahaha

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