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Initial figures indicate vast improvement in GP trainee recruitment

Almost nine in ten GP training places have been filled across the UK after two rounds of recruitment, provisional figures have shown.

The latest data from Health Education England (HEE) showed that just 454 vacancies – 12% of the 3,790 total UK training places – are still being advertised.

This was a vast improvement on last year, when one in five places were still unfilled at this time, and also from the first round of recruitment this year, after which 30% of places remained unfilled.

But the data showed that some areas are still struggling with fill rates. As previously reported by Pulse, the North East region has a 40% vacancy rate, as 78 out of 192 places are still vacant.

And the figures are not complete, with data missing for Yorkshire and Humber.

If accurate, the figures show training bosses have managed to overcome years of stagnant recruitment and a slow start to 2016, when applications tumbled by 5 percentage points on the year before.

It follows a range of efforts to boost recruitment, perhaps most notably providing £20,000 bursaries for doctors to train as a GP in under-doctored areas like Blackpool and Lincolnshire.

Another change to the process has included allowing applicants to be more specific about where they would like to train, rather than applying for places across a whole county. According to training bosses in north Wales, this change has already boosted fill rates, although in Somerset there were fears it had caused local recruitment issues.