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UK lagging behind on doctor numbers, shows OECD report



The UK is lagging behind other developed countries on average numbers of doctors per head of population, a new report has shown.

Comparing 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK is shown to have fewer doctors compared to population than, for example, Greece, Lithuania and Czech Republic.

The OECD average is shown as 3.3 per 1,000 population, with the UK at just 2.8 in 2013. However, this has increased since 2000, when it was around two.

The number of medical graduates doubled in the UK between 2000 and 2013, but most of the growth happened up until 2004. However the report shows the UK is training more doctors than the OECD average.

It highlights however that there is an oversupply in some specialties and a shortage in others, with recruiting enough GPs posing a challenge in most countries.

The report said: ’The growing imbalance in favour of greater specialisation over general medicine raises concerns in many countries about access to primary care for all the population… In most OECD countries, specialists earn more than general practitioners, providing financial incentives for doctors to specialist.

’In response to concerns about shortages of general practitioners, many countries have taken steps to improve the number of training places in general medicine. For example, in France, about 50% of all post-graduate medical training places are reserved for general medicine.’

The Department of Health had tasked Health Education England (HEE) with ensuring 50% of UK medical students went into general practice training by 2015. Despite this, Pulse reported that half of training places were unfilled in some areas after the second round.

However, the third recruitment round to GP training places saw a six-fold increase in applications on last year, HEE said this week.