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Revealed: 6% drop in GP training applications this year

Exclusive Applications for GP training have fallen for a second successive year, striking a huge blow for the recruitment of future GPs to relieve the pressure on practices, Pulse can reveal.

The national figures, which Health Education England has refused to release but have been obtained by Pulse, show a fall of 6.2% on last year, with only 5,112 applicants in total.

They come as a major blow to the medium-term future of the NHS, with all political parties and NHS England acknowledging that boosting GP numbers is essential if the health service is to adapt to a changing population and a shift of care from hospitals to the community.

The GPC has estimated previously that typically fewer than half of these applicants will ultimately take up places on GP training scheme, while local leaders have claimed that only 50% of training places in some areas have been filled so far.

But HEE claims that it is still ‘well on course’ to hit its Government-mandated target of having 3,250 GPs in training by August 2016, which itself was pushed back from August 2015

Today’s figures - which show the numbers of graduates applying for the first round of GP recruitment from 11 November to 4 December last year - continue a decline in GP recruitment in England.

Last year, only 2,688 graduates were recruited - 12% below the target figure - despite HEE running an ‘unprecedented’ third round of recruitment.

They will also heap more pressure on recruitment and retention strategies highlighted at the start of the year in NHS England’s £10m GP workforce strategy, which recommended financial incentives to attract new GPs to areas of poor recruitment, and which has already seen NHS England adverts placed in Australian medical journals encouraging emigrant GPs to come home.

The figure was contained in a board update from Health Education England’s East of England training board and a Health Education England spokesperson told Pulse that ‘the 5,112 [applications] figure is correct for this year’.

But they added this was not an indication of how many places would ultimately be filled, while the numbers of positions filled will only become clear when round 1 is finished on 26 March.

They said: ‘We cannot confirm recruitment information as we are half way through the process and a full comparison to previous rounds is not available.

‘Our mandate from the Government requires us to provide 3,250 GP training places by 2016. We are well on course to achieve that number and are working hard on a variety of initiatives to ensure general practice is seen as an exciting and interesting career choice for trainees.’

But GPC says that this latest drop in applications suggest that the number of positions filled next year could be even lower.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC education and workforce subcommittee, said: ‘The BMA is concerned that a shortfall of GPs is adding to the pressure on GP services and impeding patient care. We are working with the NHS England and HEE to find solutions to the issues, but we do believe that politicians of all parties need to provide additional support to enable more GPs to join the NHS workforce.’

Pulse can also reveal that the regional picture is variable, with GP leaders some areas – such as the Thames Valley – suggesting they had seen improvements on last year, while Dr Chris Hewitt, medical executive director of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland LMC said he understood that Health Education East Midland filled only 50% of places at selection centre last week.

The figures follows the findings of an RCGP survey highlighting critical variation in GP workforce across the country that could see some areas requiring 50% more GPs in five years’ time

Last year a Government commissioned GP taskforce report on tackling the recruitment crisis recommended axing 2,000 hospital training places in over subscribed areas to free up funding for GP training.

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Readers' comments (52)

  • Now there's a suprise!!!!!

    According to Dr Dan however there is no crisis! Heads buried in the sand!!

    What did they think the result would be of:

    1. 10 years of constant media bashing and denigration

    2. Removing autonomy and clinical expertise from decision making and patient care

    3. Undermining the relationship between doctor and patient

    4. Massively increasing demand from the public to access services whilst cutting funding provision and claiming to increase quality.

    5. Dividing the profession into two groups- the haves/ have mores and those under 50 who will have to work until 67 with significantly increased pension contributions.

    6. Promotion of a culture of fear by encouragement of complaints, persecution of whistleblowers, removal of legal standards ( burden of proof)in fitness to practice cases and creation of sinister quangos such as the CQC.

    7. Micromanagement at every level to the point at which a GP is unable to do his/ her job because they are drowning in pointless unnecessary paperwork such as referral/ prescribing/ admission audits, appraisal and re validation paperwork...........

    8. Successive pay cuts ignoring the advice of an independent pay review body

    9. Destabilising practices by removing funding such as MPIG and undermining a successful partnership model by withdrawing seniority.

    I could go on and on...................one can see the model of uk general practice is a totalitarian crypto fascist Orwellian police state that is now obsolete because the "proles" are rebelling and no longer wish to play ball.


    GPs want their freedom and dignity back.

    In the words of William Wallace

    " I tell you a truth, liberty is the best of all things, my son, never live under any slavish bond"

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  • Future doctors are wise to avoid general practice.

    The idiots that run the show can't even get their lies straight. A couple of months ago the profession was on its knees ( the actual truth) then recently all of a sudden it's the best time in "a generation" to become a GP.

    I personally believe nothing short of a complete dismantling of the control structure and modus operandi of the decision makers will reverse this. The simple fact is that the whole autocratic system is vulnerable as long as doctors have the guts to walk away which it seems now they are doing!!

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  • If you've heard all they got to say, you looked but turned away
    Just walkaway, walkaway if you've said all you got to say
    Now the words just slip away, just walkaway, walkaway, walkaway
    That's what they say, what they say, what they say, you gotta walkaway

    If you've played all the games they play, you played them yesterday
    Just walkaway, walkaway, if you've been where they want to go
    Seen all they got to show, just walkaway, walkaway, walkaway
    That's what they say, what they say, what they say, you gotta walkaway

    Now you must believe me, you never lose your dreams
    So now you must believe me, ee never lose our dreams

    If you've proved all there is to prove, got nothing left to use
    Just walkaway, walkaway, if you've done all there is to do
    There ain't nothing left for you, just walkaway, walkaway, walkaway

    That's what they say, what they say, what they say
    Walkaway, walkaway, walkaway
    That's what they say, what they say, what they say
    You gotta walkaway today

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  • relieved that younger generation are doing their homework and risk assessment - not like my generation (2004 intake) who were lied to and deceived. any GP under 50 has been left to carry the can and has been utterly let down by our own leadership.

    do not trust politicians or GP leaders - they will lie and you will be left 'holding the baby' like we are.

    i note pay for salaried posts are falling in some areas but expenses and pointless repetitive paperwork is increasing.

    hopefully the under 50s will start to get organised and some proper representation - if not i will be following the exodus out.

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  • Lies upon more lies
    Sick of it

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  • Only 6%?

    Rubbish! A total lie

    Far more than that

    Can't think for a minute who on earth would want to do this crap job any more

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  • This is all part of the Master plan.

    Destroy GP until there are not enough to do the job.

    Privatisation White Horse rides in to save the day, with empty posts filled with cheaper nursing and unqualified staff (poached from 3rd world) so Private companies can fill their boots.

    Lack of staff not a problem as those who pay will get good care, the poor, elderly and anyone else won't be able to afford healthcare like in US, so won't matter.

    Politicians and all 200+ MPs and Lords with healthcare ties cash in - Democracy at its Worst.

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  • I think doctors have worked out that GPs are now working in environments that are out of control but if you make a mistake, you will be hung out to dry and your name splashed all over the papers.

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  • The major problem is retention . Recruitment is easily solved by paying properly for a difficult job.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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