This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

I hear a bid of 5,000 new GPs. Do I hear 6,000?

Editor’s blog

With such a quiet week in politics, we’ve been scrabbling around for some news from the parties. So thank you to Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, for providing us with a line – the Labour Party will increase GP training places to 5,000, from 3,500. Hurrah!

Stop me if you have heard this one before. In 2015, there was the famous pledge from then health secretary Jeremy Hunt to increase GP numbers by 5,000 by 2020. We know how that has gone. But less remembered were the pledges by Labour and UKIP for 8,000 new GPs, and – quite bizarrely – a boast from the Lib Dems they would stump up enough funding for 38,000 new GPs (although they added that 5,000 was more likely).

In this week of all weeks, it would be appreciated if they told the truth too

Now, I have nothing against Mr Ashworth. And I hope he is correct. But I would love it if, instead of parties giving these meaningless pledges, they would give a proper plan about how they will go about recruiting these GPs.

And, in this week of all weeks, it would be appreciated if they told the truth too. But that might be asking too much of some.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at

Rate this article  (4.5 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (8)

  • You can train a million new GPs but fairly pointless unless you ringfence the actual work they can be expected to deal with. Unless you improve working conditions and at least halve the average amount of patient contacts that were expected to do at the moment you might as well not bother. Why does no one see this?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • |Patrick Southam | GP Partner/Principal|25 Sep 2019 9:33pm

    - they don't want to. Why? Cos the country is broke and they can't afford anything else other than the bulk contract. Why? Cos you have a big state running things inefficiently. Why does no one see THIS? Even more bizarrely, why does the entire Left want to give the state MORE power/tax/and believe that things will turn out better?

    - On a side note Jaimie, UKIP actually costed their manifesto independently, and were the first one to do so. And explained how they were going to fund it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Create as many GP training places as you want, but if the destination is penal servitude in the NHS it won't help.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Christopher Ho 10:17 Spot on. We won't get 5k new GPs we need to reduce demand.. the only way ios to charge for access even a small amount. Fols will need to choose -- latest phone or access.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree with charging. But either full amount or nothing. If a patient pays £5 they'll demand £30 more of our time.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • doctordog.

    Whatever your view of left or right wing politicians, we did do rather better under mr Blair than before or since.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Christopher Ho, there is little evidence that the country is broke, though too much of the money disappears from the UK economy to offshore accounts; other European countries manage better social welfare and pensions at the same level of GDP. And the current Government seems to think it has billions to spend on recent promises. The problem with general practice is lack of long term investment, which should have started twenty years ago, accompanied by long term planning, ditto. Cameron's promised 5,000 GPs was obviously impossible even then, and his Government did nothing to actually make it happen. Successive Governments, from before that, have made promises without ensuring they were honoured. Whilst politicians can get re-elected on the basis of failure, we shall continue to be governed by greed, not need.
    As for charging, it will be just like prescription charges; an army of accountants and clerks, exemptions, rebates, and ill feeling, with no eventual income. The Scottish Government actually saved money by abolishing them.
    Think again.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • |Gerald Freshwater | Hospital Doctor|28 Sep 2019 2:35pm
    "there is little evidence that the country is broke"

    - You don't feel it because it is our children and their children futures that are being mortgaged. Its called debt/deficit and its rising. The numbers don't lie.

    - Do you think other European countries aren't going the same way we are? And would you be happy paying the amount of progressive tax they do? Watch Sweden, Holland, etc down the road.

    - Oh I agree with money being better spent (e.g. not sending it to the EU), and being elected on failure. State investment is just kicking the ball down the line... No, we should be governed by freedom/liberty/transparency, and not compulsion, as history and evidence shows that is the most successful... for most... And social virtue/altruism picks up the rest.

    - Lol yes the Scottish govt saved money, as it didn't have to pay that fiscal army... but in a private setting, its the service providers that cover that cost. Doesn't seem like many of the other countries that run co-payments/insurance based systems are wanting to switch to free prescriptions...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say