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Health minister provokes anger with claims more graduates joining general practice



A Government health minister provoked outrage on social media this week when he suggested that the number of graduates joining general practice has increased under his party’s governance.

Conservative MP and former NHS hospital doctor Dr Dan Poulter tweeted on Wednesday that the current Government had produced 1050 ‘working and training GPs’ between 2010 and 2013. He added that more doctors than before were choosing to become GPs.

 

Yet as Pulse reported earlier this month, health education leaders have recently witnessed the country’s worst recruitment round in seven years, with only 2,630 graduates entering training in England – the lowest number since figures started to be collected in 2007. In some areas, vacancy rates stand around 40%.

Meanwhile, health education managers in the south west of England have arranged a crisis summit to tackle acute problems in the GP workforce, while other CCGs around the country are being forced to offer ‘golden hellos’ and other perks (including overseas placements and MBA funding) to attract more doctors to general practice and encourage those already practicing to remain.  

Dr Poulter’s comments elicited angry responses on social media, with several doctors taking to Twitter to accuse the MP of misleading the public.

Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee and executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said in a series of tweets to the MP that the number of doctors leaving general practice were ‘far greater’ than those joining.

 

 

Fellow GPC member Dr Krishna Kasereneni tweeted that general practice would be ‘doomed’ if the Government failed to acknowledge the scale of the crisis threatening general practice.

 

Dr Poulter’s tweet came in the same week as he told Parliament that over 500 GP practices had closed in the last five years.

The MP did not respond to any of the tweets, nor to Pulse’s enquiries as to the source of the statistics.

 

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