The Labour Party is planning to introduce ‘immediate’ incentives for medical students to choose general practice as a career, it has revealed.
The party made the pledge in a statement issued in response to Pulse’s revelation this morning that GP vacancies are at their highest rate since Pulse started running surveys on vacancy rates.
In the statement, Labour shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne accused the Conservative Party for causing the GP crisis by not following up on promises made on GP recruitment.
Mr Gwynne said: ‘These figures reveal the scale of the GP workforce crisis the Tories have created, where warm words on GP recruitment each year are followed by broken promises the next.
‘Labour will take immediate action to incentivise more students to choose GP speciality training, to encourage more GPs to practice in under-doctored areas and to encourage those who have recently left to return to practice.’
He said that after five years of the Tory’s ‘failing plan’ to recruit GPs this would require ‘more ambition and more funding’.
Referring to the party’s plan to raise extra money for the NHS via new taxes on property, Mr Gwynne said: ‘The doomsayers are wrong to say that crisis is inevitable. Labour is determined to turn things around, and we are the only party with a funded plan to do it.’
The RCGP has also responded to the alarming figures, which were revealed in Pulse’s annual analysis of GP vacancy numbers, saying that they have ‘reinforced’ the college’s message that the UK’s ‘severe’ GP shortate is now having a ‘serious impact’ on patients.
RCGP honorary secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said the figures further underlined the college’s campaign for the general practice part of the NHS budget to rise from a record low of 8% and back up to 11%.
He said: ‘Patient demand is increasing rapidly due to our growing and ageing population but this has not been matched with funding or the numbers of GPs and practice staff needed to deliver high standards of care.
‘What’s more, highly trained and experienced family doctors are leaving the profession in growing numbers because of these pressures and not enough medical students are entering general practice to replace them.’