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We must stop GPs leaving the profession, says minister

General practice must remain a desirable option for doctors in order to reverse the trend of stressed GPs leaving the profession, says a health minister.

Earl Howe told the Family Doctor Association conference in Nottingham this weekend that he was, ‘well aware of the pressures that GPs are under’ with rising patient demand.

He said that the Government want to tackle the ‘box ticking’ required of GPs and that there needed to be an increase in the number of GPs to avoid burnout and improve access for patients.

He said: ‘There are people so stressed out they are leaving the profession. We want to stop that.’

He told the conference that, ‘part of the answer lies in having more GPs.’

There are currently 35,000 GPs today in comparison to 30,000 in 2002. The minister said: ‘It’s plateauing and we are not achieving our targets for recruiting new GPs, which is why we have tasked Health Education England to see that a greater number of trainees go into general practice.’

He emphasised that health ministers, ‘really do recognise how hard you work. I am regularly told of the long hours spent with patients followed by long hours spent with paperwork,’ but that ‘general practice must remain a desirable option for doctors.’

HEE has a target of recruiting 3,250 GP trainees per year, which will constitute 50% of medical graduates. However, Pulse also revealed that deaneries have recruited only 95 additional GP trainees to begin training this year, casting serious doubt on whether the new body – which was established in April this year – will reach its targets.