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GP recruitment drive stalls as deaneries increase intake by just 95 GP trainees

Exclusive: Deaneries have recruited only 95 additional GP trainees to begin training next month, casting serious doubt on whether Health Education England will reach its target of an annual intake of 3,250 GP trainees by 2015.

Figures obtained by Pulse from Health Education England (HEE) reveal that 2,787 GP trainee posts were offered in England this year, with 2,764 positions accepted - an increase of just 95 since 2012, when 2,669 such places were accepted.

The Government’s push to increase the proportion of medical trainees going into general practice to 50% by 2015 does appear to be on track, with the proportion of GP trainees increasing this year by five percentage points to 41%. But this increase can be put down to a sharp fall in the overall number of medical training posts taken up. HEE said there were 4,030 hospital trainees due to start training in England this year, a fall of 695 from 2012, when 4,725 such places were accepted.

The latest figures come amid mounting fears that general practice is in the midst of a workforce crisis. RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada has claimed that 10,000 more GPs are needed to help the NHS deal with a rising workload, while the Centre for Workforce Intelligence, which was commissioned by the Government to look into the GP workforce, urged ministers to make general practice a more appealing option for medical students to boost recruitment.

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley last year set out a plan to boost the number of GP trainees by 20% by 2015 in England so that GP registrars would make up 50% of the specialty training places. However the latest figures suggest that deaneries may struggle to achieve the 20% increase in overall numbers.

Three deaneries of the 13 deaneries in England - Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery, NHS West Midlands Workforce Deanery and Yorkshire and the Humber Deanery - will actually train fewer GPs next year. The figure for the total number of GP trainees does not include 29 trainees at the Defence Postgraduate Medical Deanery, up from 24 last year.

Professor Bill Irish, chair of the GP National Recruitment Office, said: ‘Any increase is clearly a step in the right direction, and is a tribute to all of the efforts being made by Health Education England and its GP deans to tackle this important issue. It is however fairly clear that we still have some way to go.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the BMA’s GP trainees subcommittee, said: ‘Health Education England declared that numbers would reach 3,250 by 2015 and given that is two years away, this is really falling short. The problem is that we need significant financial investment in primary care in order for this to work.’

‘General practice needs to be promoted as a speciality that you want to do rather than one you do when nothing else works out. Also, the constant negative attitude towards GPs in the media does not do the profession or the speciality any good.’

A spokesperson for Health Education England said: ‘We have seen an increase of nearly 100 GP trainees this year. A GP taskforce was established to specifically look at what the system needed to do to achieve the longstanding target of 3,250 GP trainees in England. This will include the need to promote general practice as a career choice for students in medical schools and doctors on foundation programmes.’

‘Over the summer, the taskforce will be publishing very specific recommendations for the system to achieve the 3,250 target by 2015.’

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  • Krishna Kasaraneni

Readers' comments (9)

  • 100 GPs in4 years?
    in this area alone we are short of 20+ now
    and many experienced old hands are going to go due to the crippling workload and pay cuts.

    the collapse is happening.
    And all the money HMG has saved on pensions and pay will be a drop in the ocean compared with the money they will need to bail out the system in a collapse.
    stupidity on a mindboggling scale

    If you don't pay international rates for your doctors and you treat them like dirt they will go abroad or retire or at least cut all those extra hours they do out of goodwill. all the moaning to the Daily Mail in the world about your "rights" will help you not one bit.

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  • Sudheer Surapaneni

    How can the GPs and the doctors from foreign countries can work with dedication in the UK NHS If there is widespread discrimination in the system and at the top of the establishment.

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  • That's 95 GPs too many


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  • Of course the Government will only listen to calls for improvements to pay and conditions once there is clear evidence of failure to recruit and retain GPs.

    Surely the same process should be applied when considering increases to MPs' pay?

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  • Dear John

    I am very sorry to hear that you can't see a local GP anymore because your local practice has sadly closed and that the only option now is to go to one of Richard Branson's nurse lead clinics.
    However I would like to point out that perhaps if you had not voted for the current government and more importantly did not buy regular Daily Mail newspapers then the two largest causes of the GP workforce collapse namely Jeremy Hunt and The Daily Mail would not have been in a position to dismantle the "crown jewels" of the NHS (namely General Practice).
    It looks like you will now have nobody to sort out your "crown jewels".

    Kind Regards

    Your local bankrupt CCG

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  • I have just accepted an offer in Australia . I complete my training in 2 weeks and I cannot stomach the thought of working in the current state of the NHS. 3 years of academic and professional abuse in order to get my mrcgp. I have worked my socks off whilst studying for hard exams. The pay freeze means I am struggling financially and my pay hardly covers my living expenses. I feel valued and wanted In australia. I am treated with respect unlike the nhs and gp managers who have wiped the floor with my face. Have been offered 15 min consultations with expected annual income of at least 100 thousands pounds after tax ( working 9 to 5).

    Doesn't really matter how many more gp's are trained If Australia and Canada pinch the newly qualified. I am a bit bitter that I have to leave England which I love bit I have been left with no choice. I need a life.

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  • @0.45

    Congratulations! I hope you are very happy and have a really fulfilling career.

    Sadly this massive brain drain is not only affecting doctors. I know of nurses, teachers, accountants and many other well trained, intelligent young people who have left. They are mainly headed for USA, Canada, Australia and Middle East.

    Have not heard of anyone going to other European countries, presumably because of the language issues.

    Those leaving will earn more, have a much better work life balance, be treated with respect by both employers and patients and will not have to pay off their massive student loans.

    Don't blame you, would do the same myself if I was younger.

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  • Let common sense prevail

    "I have worked my socks off whilst studying for hard exams."
    Are there any doctors out there (young or old) who don't recognise this scenario? It's an integral part of joining a profession.

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  • @David
    The problem is that even getting the degree does not mean you are treated respectfully.; Nobody is scared of the hard work. you just don't seem reap any fruits only abuse at the end of it. Why stay if treated better in Australia/Canada

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