Health Education England will ensure that half of medical students become GPs by 2015, the Government has announced.
The Government’s five-year mandate to Health Education England said that the body would adopt the target first set out by former health secretary Andrew Lansley last year for half of of medical training places to go to GPs.
Mr Lansley had promised a 20% increase in GP places at medical schools by 2015, but this target was not mentioned in the mandate.
Pulse reported last year that deaneries were failing to respond to the growing workforce crisis in general practice, creating only eight more GP training places across the UK last year, but increasing the number of specialist places by several hundred.
This meant the proportion of GP trainees fell from 40% in 2011 to 36% in 2012.
The Government placed the target in the ‘short-term deliverables’ section of the mandate given to the new NHS body. It called on Health Education England ‘to ensure progress should be made in each year of the mandate towards ensuring that 50% of medical students become GPs’.
The mandate also included a new five-year workforce plan to ensure the right levels of staffing and training across the health service workforce by autumn 2013, with an eye to increasing the number of emergency doctors, and a commitment for more GPs to have mandatory training in mental health and children’s health.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘The staff working in our NHS are our health service’s most precious resource, and we must do all we can to ensure that our staff have the right values, training, and skills to deliver the very highest quality of care for patients.
‘Today’s mandate to Health Education England, backed by a £5bn budget will help our many dedicated frontline staff to further improve their ability to care for patients as well as enabling our NHS to train the next generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants.’
Please note, this story was changed at 16:20 on 28 March to reflect that the target is to be met by 2015, not 2018.