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Health minister doubts claims of a GP recruitment crisis

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter has said that claims there is a GP recruitment crisis are ‘not necessarily correct’, despite NHS England releasing a £10m ten point plan on boosting recruitment last month.

Speaking in a debate on general practice funding in the House of Commons, Dr Poulter said he didn’t think that the point made that there was ‘a crisis in GP recruitment’ was ‘necessarily correct’.

The three-hour long debate, inspired by RCGP’s Put Patients First campaign, concluded with MPs voting in favour of a motion calling for the health secretary ‘to work with NHS England and the RCGP to secure the financial future of local GP services as a matter of urgency’.

The motion was brought by Labour MP for Halton Derek Twigg and Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion Caroline Lucas, who argued that the quality of GP services is declining because of a lack of funding relative to other NHS services and there are too few new GPs being trained.

Mr Twigg was talking about how out-of-hours services are organised and the Government’s plan to extend GP opening times to evenings and weekends, when he said: ‘The key thing here is that we haven’t got enough GPs and that is the point we have got to really focus on today.’

However Dr Poulter responded that it was ‘not necessarily correct’ that there was a crisis.

He told Mr Twigg: ‘On the point of long-term workforce planning, and this is an important point. Very clear, that if the honorable member is raising the fact that there is suddenly a crisis in GP recruitment, something that I don’t think is necessarily correct, that actually if the previous Government was actually serious about investing in general practice it should have trained a lot more GPs than it did.’

It comes as Pulse revealed in December that GP training is in turmoil with ‘one application for every four roles’ and as the Government launched a £10 million ten-point plan to boost recruitment and retention of GPs just last week.

The RCGP’s Put Patients First campaign has been petitioning for general practice to receive at least 11% of total NHS funding.