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Over 40% of doctors lost after foundation year training

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of doctors who go on to train as GPs and specialists following their foundation year, with only six out of 10 choosing to continue training. 

UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) figures reveal that just 59% of medical graduates who completed their foundation year 2 went on to work in hospitals or as GPs following the completion of the course in 2014, down from 71.4% in 2011.

The survey covered over 6,980 foundation doctors in 2014, representing 95% of all F2s completing foundation training.

It is the latest blow to Health Education England’s attempts to entice medical graduates into a career in general practice – despite claims of an increase in applications for the third round of training this year.

Pulse revealed earlier this week that there have been fewer applications to medical schools for the second year running.

GP leaders said that the recent figures reflected the uncertainty felt by younger doctors about a career in medicine.

UKFPO’s figures were published in response to a parliamentary question asked on 2 November by Dr Daniel Poulter, former health minister and MP for Central Suffolk and Ipswich, who asked what proportion of doctors left foundation training and entered training posts between 2008 and 2015.

Junior health minister Ben Gummer revealed that 71% went on to become doctors in 2011, 67% in 2012, 64% in 2013 and 59% in 2014.

He added that the survey was a ‘fairly accurate predictor of the destination of doctors who have completed foundation training’ but was not intended as an ‘accurate employment record’.

This follows the report earlier this week that showed the total number of UK students applying for places at medical school has fallen for the second year running, dropping by 13.5% compared with two years ago.

GP academic leaders said that the drop was ‘too large’ to be put down to chance and said that the fall in interest had been driven by ‘negative publicity’ around problems with funding, seven-day working and consultant and GP contracts.

Meanwhile, half of GP training places remain vacant in some areas of the country.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’It is clear that young doctors are really unsure what the future holds for them, with huge uncertainty being created by Government policy. Few are going to commit to general practice or even the wider NHS until they start to hear that the Government is listening to their concerns.

’Bright young sixth-formers will also be seeing this and with pay and pension cuts, together with unreasonable expectations on working hours it’s no surprise if they start to shun medicine and look at alternative careers.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC’s education, training and workforce subcommittee, added: ’I want to know what the secretary of state is going to do to change the above trend. Simply devolving the responsibility to HEE and undermining the whole profession with the threat of imposing a contract on junior doctors, the future of our profession, is definitely not the right way.’

A Health Education England spokesperson said: ’A further piece of work is required to determine what percentage of doctors return to training after one or two years out.’

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