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Independents' Day

GP trainee figures increase by 100 on last year - but huge shortfalls remain

Around 11% of the available GP training places in England will be left unfilled this year, but training bosses and ministers hailed a ‘big jump’ in the number of GPs accepted to training compared to last year.

A total of 2,769 trainees have been recruited to GP training this year, just 98 more than 2014 and well below the Government mandated target to recruit 3,250 GP trainees a year by August 2016.

Nearly 40% of places remain unfilled in the North East, with a 7% drop in the actual numbers of trainees accepted, and in the East Midlands 31% of places remain unfilled though the region has recruited four more GPs than last year.

The Government has pledged to increase GP numbers by 5,000 by 2020, and the latest figures cast doubt as to whether this is achievable.

However, the health minister for primary care said it was ‘really encouraging’ to see more doctors joining general practice.

The new figures are released after Health Education England and NHS England have implemented a series of measures aimed at alleviating the GP recruitment crisis, including an advertising campaign that featured skydiving patients. 

But such measures have been unable to improve uptake in the areas that are facing the worst recruitment problems.

Alongside the problems in the North East and the East Midlands, the West Midlands recruited 281 trainees – a drop of 53 on last year.

However, most regions in the South of England filled all their training places, while Thames Valley, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, and the South West actually overfilled their allocations.

This highlights the problem with GP trainee recruitment drive raised by Health Education England’s chief executive Professor Ian Cumming to MPs last month that London and the South were filling rapidly to the detriment of the Midlands and North.

This year’s third recruitment round yielded 180 additional recruits from 676 applications, which is an improvement on last year, when HEE recruited just 47 trainees.

Health minister for general practice Alastair Burt praised HEEs success saying: ‘It is really encouraging to see more doctors joining general practice… A big well done to everyone involved in this recruitment process,’.

However, he added that more needed to be done to ‘bring in far more GPs’ to improve care and cut GPs’ workload.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC’s education, training, and workforce subcommittee, said: ’The increase in the number of GP trainee places being filled compared to last year is a step in the right direction.

’The halt in declining GP recruitment this year as a result of BMA’s intervention in the 10 point plan is only the first step. There is a very long way to go before we fully address the problems facing the GP workforce [and] worrying shortages still remain in many parts of the country.’

Readers' comments (15)

  • How many plan to remain in the UK after training though? How many intend to practice full time. Even if the answer to the above was 100% there remains a shortfall. We all know it won't be anywhere near 100%

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  • Not statistically significant I suspect, and it's peeing into a hurricane when you consider what's happening with both RETENTION of GPs in their 50s (my contempories are dropping like flies, those with no kids or mortgage to feed went ages ago), post training outcomes of the trainees. I am a 10 year veteran programme director, and the consistent top career choice in my VTS in a straw poll at the Christmas lunch? "Australia or locum", with the word "partnership" provoking hoots of laughter. Nuff said.

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  • As Brody said to flint in Jaws when he first saw the shark"We're goin to need a bigger boat",and WE ARE!

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  • How many "extra" trainees are IMGs who will fail the CSA more than 4 times? Making up numbers for the heck of it could be very risky.

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  • A 3.7% increase - "a big jump"? Seriously? Who are these people trying to kid? Part of this increase is off the back of the JD's dispute. It won't be sustained.

    Where are we going to be in 5 years time with or without industrial action? There isn't any more money in the kitty and any extra funding that has been announced will come with strings.

    I think we have to broadcast to the public that the government is wrecking GP. Get the message across more urgently and more effectively.

    Do we honestly think that forcing HMG to the negotiating table is going to save GP? Then why strike? We need a clear objective to industrial action - which is lacking...

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  • boo hoo to all those who think that trainees are just doing General Practice to get out of secondary care and out of the NHS (to abroad) as quickly as possible. we all know it is down to the fantastic work of HEE and the recruitment campaign. Slow down guys as what are we going to do with all these GPs !

    i predict a knighthood for HEE head.

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  • Trying to spin stats is what the these figures represent. If the problems in GP land were addressed (like in 2004 with increased pay with better working conditions, short lived as it was) you might have a time where there are not enough places for people who apply. Currently it is only going to get worse year on year. RIP GP.

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  • Spin spin spin. Recruitment figures for the main round in Feb will show no increase and possibly a decrease.

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  • So we've got more applicants who "couldn't cut it" rather than people who actually want to do general practice. You know what that means for the standard of general practice. RIP GP.

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  • @Anonymous | GP Partner18 Dec 2015 12:55pm

    'So we've got more applicants who "couldn't cut it" rather than people who actually want to do general practice'

    Those applicants will not be treated with any different for those who "can cut it" when it comes to exam time. A massacre I tell ya. Seen it and it aint pretty.

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