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NI Government warned to take action as 'almost half' of GP trainees drop out before completion

Almost half of GP trainees in Northern Ireland expected to complete their training last year dropped out before completion, local GP leaders have said.

Speaking from this weekend’s annual regional LMCs conference, Northern Irish GPC chair Dr Tom Black said only 33 out of the 65 trainees expected to qualify into the profession in 2014 actually did so.

Dr Black, who called on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to bring in new strategies for the recruitment and retention of GPs, further warned that GP out-of-hours services are approaching ‘breaking point’ and are surviving only because of the ‘goodwill and professionalism of GPs’.

He also reiterated demands to plug a £33m funding gap to bring GP funding in Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, which were first made in a BMA report out last month.

Dr Black said: ‘We estimate that £33 million recurrent funding is required to bring us up to par with the rest of the UK. Our out of hours services for one, are grossly underfunded and are rapidly reaching breaking point. The reality is that the system is surviving currently on the goodwill and professionalism of GPs and this is just not sustainable long term.’

He added: ‘We also need the department to look at the recruitment and retention of GPs. Older GPs are increasingly opting for early retirement, whilst at the other end of the spectrum there are not enough GPs being trained to meet demand in Northern Ireland. Of the 65 GPs due to complete their training in 2014, just 33 did so.

‘We intend to work with the department, Health and Social Care Board, Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency and School of Medicine to develop a campaign to attract medical students and junior doctors into general practice.’

Readers' comments (15)

  • So Mareen Baker's assertion about GP being a coveted profession is not taken seriously by our younger colleagues who have been more pragmatic and realistic in NI.

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  • Wonder how many raised patient safety or bullying concerns and got targetted by the deanery?

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  • I'm 58 and a 1/3rd. There is a lot of talk about retention of GPs like me but nothing ever happens. Meanwhile the clock counts down......

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  • as a GP working full time in Central Belfast Northern Ireland I can tell you we are a real crisis point.We are a 6 doctor surgery. I have 2 fulltime partners past retirement age and have no interest from anyone in taking a partnership ; never mind buying into the practice.
    We have seriously discussed list closure with Board - but I am told it is illegal under our GMS contract. Honestly what are the options??? resign /close and pay 25 staff redundancies ??

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  • Una Coales

    Can we please have more information as to why 32 out of 65 Northern Ireland GP trainees dropped out and did not complete training in 2014?

    Did they..
    1. Fail AKT
    2. Fail CSA
    3. Fail to be signed off by their subjective supervisor
    4. Commit suicide
    5. Change careers
    6. Drop out from burnout, bullying or being undermined
    7. End up suspended by the GMC for blowing the whistle over EWTD abuses or hospital system failures
    8. Join ISIS

    Surely with almost half of GP trainees not completing training, a significant event analysis should be conducted to account for this huge loss in NHS expenditure to train up GPs in Northern Ireland so that lessons may be learned?

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  • I'm surprised it's only half . Must be doing something right .

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  • all this 'crisis' talk is somewhat depressing. General Practice is not in crisis as;

    1. It is not officially listed as a prefered migration entry profession although many (and i mean many) secondary care professions are.
    2. NHSE and HEE have a cast iron 10 point plan to increase GP numbers.
    3. Dr Dan Poulter has also said there is no crisis.
    4. RCGP have some fantastic ideas to help solve the non-existent recruitment problems in General Practice such as introducing medical assistants, lengthening training to four years and so on.
    5. Also the move to 12 hr a day salaried posts will also help.
    6. Sir Simon Stevens has lots of ideas to introduce new models of healthcare and certainly encouraging doctors to lose weight will also help.
    7. increasing retirement age will also mean doctors being around for longer and the real-term cuts in pay can go towards the necessary infrastructure such as NHSE to ensure quality is maintained.

    all i see is positive news and no crisis.

    a few partners are retiring to take advantage oof their well earned pension BUT they go straight back to locum work i.e. no fall in numbers.

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  • John Glasspool

    Another good news story! Our message is being heeded by the people that matter: the ones who would have to eat the bucket of faeces that GP has become.

    And UNA- ROTFL! (In Ireland they probably join something other than ISIS I suspect.)

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  • Mostly they won't have finished because of taking breaks to have babies and then going part time from my experience of local GP trainees.
    And why not? Only opportunity to get paid maternity before a career of being without employee rights.
    From this year they can't fill the places at the front end either.

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  • The numbers reflect the female workforce and that many have 1 or more pregnancies throughout training. There is not a 50% failure/quit rate in Northern Ireland.

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