Number of registrars falling
The number of GP registrars last year fell for the first time in more than a decade.NHS workforce statistics show there were 2,278 GP registrars in 2006, down 11.2% from the previous year. Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said the figures were worrying and that it was 'vitally important' the fall did not become a long-term trend.'The concern raised by many is that quite a number of GPs have been hanging on because of their pensions and are likely to retire in the not too distant future,' he said. 'To replace an existing GP often takes more than one new GP because of the increasing preponderance of part-time working.'Dr Vautrey blamed the fall in registrar numbers on deaneries restricting the number of available training posts to save cash.'Clearly it is of concern if numbers of training posts are falling, when we know quite a number of junior doctors are aspiring to general practice,' he said. Dr Alex Smallwood, a GP registrar in Bedford and deputy chair of the GPC registrars' subcommittee, said it was likely that negative media coverage and pay issues were putting off many of the best junior doctors from pursuing a career in general practice.'I think people with the right attitude are going to be put off,' he said. 'The personable family doctors who would like to be respected by the local community, they're the sort of people who may be put off if they don't feel that they're going to be valued.'The 2006 figures also showed that 61% of GP registrars were female, a record proportion.