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Minister blames ‘counsel of despair’ GPs for poor training uptake

A junior health minister has told MPs that pessimistic GPs are partly to blame for the recruitment issues facing the profession.

Speaking at a House of Commons Library Debate on GP retention and recruitment, health minister Steve Brine said there is ‘little wonder’ that medical students don’t want to follow GPs into the profession as they have become ‘a counsel of despair’.

He added that ‘positivity is very important’ to attract new recruits, citing RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard as a ‘a brilliant example of the cup being half full’.

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His comments come after workforce numbers continue to decline with the latest official figures revealing that 219 full-time equivalent GPs left the profession between September and December last year.

Mr Brine told MPs: ‘There are things that we can do but I would also say that there are things that the profession can do too and if doctors in general practice are a counsel of despair then little wonder that people don’t want to follow them into it.’

He added: ‘I think there are some really good positive voices in general practice, ably led by Helen Stokes-Lampard, who is a brilliant example of the cup being half full. That kind of positivity is important so it is a partnership.’

Mr Brine’s comments come after Professor Stokes-Lampard previously advised GPs not to ‘vent on your juniors’, adding that ‘it’s destructive and unhelpful’.