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Record numbers of GP training places accepted

The number of GP trainee places that have been accepted has beaten the annual target for a second consecutive year.

Health Education England (HEE) has reported that 3,538 GP trainees have been accepted in the past year, beating the annual target of 3,250. This is the highest trainee acceptance rate in the history of the NHS, according to HEE. 

Earlier this year, it was reported that the NHS workforce could face a shortfall of 7,000 GPs by 2023/24, according to the Health Foundation.

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive, Heath Education England said: ’This is very welcome news. We have done a great deal of work to promote general practice as a rewarding career, and this increase in acceptances demonstrates the work is paying off.

’The NHS Long Term Plan is very clear that patient care needs to be delivered closer to home wherever possible, and that’s why this expansion is so important, and why we have made this one of our key priorities. We’re committed to creating new roles, such as nursing associates and physician associates, as well as expanding existing training routes, and redesigning the way we deliver 21st century care to patients across the country.’

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the government was creating 1,500 undergraduate medical school places and investing primary and community care with an extra £4.5 billion by 2023/24.

He added: ‘Our NHS would be nothing without the GPs who deliver crucial frontline care to patients every day, so I am delighted to welcome the highest ever number of GP trainees into the NHS family.’

Professor Wendy Reid, director of education and quality and national medical director at HEE, said there were now thousands more doctors in the system thanks to series of initiatives to market general practice as a rewarding career choice.

She added: ‘Our work with partners including the RCGP around raising the profile and attractiveness of general practice as a career is helping to boost the number of trainees who want to join this key specialty.’

One future scheme to make general practice more attractive is the promotion of portfolio careers as outlined in NHS interim workforce plan.

And there is still concern over the retention of GPs and the number of hours they work.

A recent report by the GMC found that almost a third of GPs had reduced their hours in the past year and 10% intended to take a break from practising medicine over the next year.