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£2.4bn workforce plan to increase GP training places by 50% among other measures

£2.4bn workforce plan to increase GP training places by 50% among other measures

GP training places in England will increase by 50% to 6,000 by 2031, the NHS’s first-ever long-term workforce plan will pledge.

Over the next five years, the number of GP training places will rise by 25%, the document due to be published in the morning will say.

Other measures of note will include the expansion of apprenticeship routes to qualify for NHS clinical roles, and a plan to train more advanced paramedics for same-day emergency care.

And the GMC will consult on four-year medical degree courses that would allow medical students to join the NHS workforce six months earlier.

GP trainees will also spend their whole training in general practice, the plan will say.

The 15-year plan will be backed by a £2.4bn investment from the Government ‘to fund additional education and training places over five years on top of existing funding commitments’, NHS England said.

The plan is also expected to include GP retention measures although the RCGP said the ‘devil will be in the detail’ as well ‘delivery’.

The document will set out plans for the next 15 years but NHS England said it will need to be updated every two years as circumstances change.

The plan will also set out long-term staffing projections, warning that without action a current shortfall of NHS staff of 112,000 could grow to 360,000 by 2037 due the ‘growing and ageing population, coupled with new treatments and therapies’.

As pledged, the Government-commissioned plan aims to reduce the NHS’s reliance on overseas recruitment and costly agency staff.

In response, England will:

  • double medical school training places to 15,000 by 2031, with more places in areas with the greatest shortages
  • increase the number of GP training places by 50% to 6,000 by 2031
  • almost double the number of adult nurse training places by 2031, with 24,000 more nurse and midwife training places a year by 2031.

Coupled with yet-to-be-seen retention measures, this could mean an extra 60,000 doctors, 170,000 more nurses and 71,000 more allied health professionals in place by 2036/37, NHS England said.

On widening access to clinical staff training, one in six (16%) of all training places will offered through apprenticeships by 2028 – including more than 850 medical students.

Other measures included in the plan

  • Investment in new technology to ‘free up staff to focus on using their expertise to help patients’. 
  • An expert group will be set to ‘harness advances in AI’.
  • Trainees ‘will be on wards and in practices sooner’, with plans to work with the GMC and medical schools to consult on the introduction of four-year medical degrees and medical internships, ‘allowing students to start work six months earlier’.
  • More student nurses will be able to take up jobs as soon as they graduate in May, rather than waiting until September, ‘with more reaching the frontline and treating patients more quickly’.
  • New medical schools could open up in areas of the country where there is the greatest staffing shortfall, with similar plans for postgraduate medical training places.
  • Training of around 150 additional advanced paramedics annually, including to support the delivery of same day emergency care.
  • Expand training places for clinical psychology and child and adolescent psychotherapy, on a path to increasing by more than a quarter to over 1,300 by 2031. 

Source: NHS England press release

The plan will be ‘one of the most significant announcements in the history of the NHS’, the Prime Minister has said, while staff close to the health secretary told media outlets it would have a focus on tech including ‘robot receptionists’.

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said: ‘The NHS relies on its people and has been in dire need of a long-term workforce plan to ensure it not only exists but is thriving in years to come.

‘We look forward to seeing the full plan, but what we’re hearing are some encouraging proposals, including that it will contain initiatives to retain GPs and our teams in the profession, as well as recruiting more.

‘The devil will be in the detail, and also the delivery – we need to see work begin to ensure this plan becomes a reality as a matter of urgency.’

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: ‘This is a truly historic day for the NHS in England – for 75 years, the extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion of NHS staff has been the backbone of the health service – and the publication of our first-ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan now gives us a once in a generation opportunity to put staffing on sustainable footing for the years to come.

GMC chair Charlie Massey – who has argued in favour of deploying SAS doctors in general practice – said: ‘Bringing more professionals into the system is vital for the long-term sustainability of the workforce. However, it is equally vital that we keep hold of the talent we already have, and that the needs and contribution of our existing doctors are not overlooked as the UK pipeline is developed – including the internationally qualified doctors who play such a vital role in patient care. Increasing medical school places also cannot come without a corresponding growth in trainer capacity. This is vital both for medical students and newer professions like physician associates and anaesthesia associates.’


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Nicholas Robinson 30 June, 2023 12:16 am

Will 4 yr degrees mean that UK drs will no longer be eligible to work in EU or elsewhere??

SUBHASH BHATT 30 June, 2023 7:44 am

If 4 year degree is not recognised abroad, it will solve retention problem.

Turn out The Lights 30 June, 2023 8:12 am

Dumbing down?

Mr Marvellous 30 June, 2023 9:27 am

Given that none of the other 5000 / 6000 etc GP commitments have been kept, why does anyone think this will be different.

It’s all made up nonsense.

Josephine Fleming 30 June, 2023 9:32 am

And where will the GP trainers come from? More trainees need more trainer time

David Church 30 June, 2023 9:36 am

Mr Massey seems to have a single track quote to put SAS doctors in GP – Yet, SAS doctors have chosen to train in hospital specialties, because they didn;t want to do GP training. Is he going to force them?
Likewise, it is all very well increasing GP training places by 50 %, but thos does mean recruiting 50% more GP trainers, which is difficult with the poor funding, AND SHORTAGE OF GPs to take on trainer roles and train as trainers.
BUT, were all the existing training places filled last year with good quality candidates? GP VTS schemes have been under-subscribed for years, resulting in many taking in OMGs, who are predictably slightly more likely to leave Britain at the end of training. Some are even tied to a contract to go back to their home country, and will probably have better working conditions there anyway.
Wherefrom will we find an additional 50% of GP training applicants? For junior doctors, there are already shortages and plenty of vacancies in hospital specialty training places, with more lucrative private practice opportunities.
And if we change GP training to 3 years in GP, will trainees have to spend additional years in hospital to gain the extra experience in specialties that they don’t get during a 4 year degree course and 2 years as junior HOs?

Bonglim Bong 30 June, 2023 9:52 am

Twice as many GP trainees
Each trainee spending twice as much time in General Practice

Sounds like you are going to need 4x as many GP trainers. Training practices are going to need extra space and extra GPs in total to make up for time spent training. And GP training needs to be both financially and holistically valued and beneficial.

Good luck with that.

Darren Tymens 30 June, 2023 10:35 am

This has been promoted as one fo the most amazing things to happen to the NHS in decades. It is not, of course, it is more empty promises hyped up to get a headline and please the government. It has been met in the press with a resounding ‘meh’.

1. it is never going to happen. previous similar promises have been made and not honoured – why will this be any different?
2. training is being dumbed-down in order to push service provision. most ward-based teaching in specialities is now inadequate largely due to service provision pressures, and protected teaching time has become a luxury in most specialities.
3. ‘apprentice’ doctors will slowly pick up a purely functional level of knowledge. service provision will edge out teaching and learning, and they will be treated as £9 per hour dogsbodies by most. this is not the way to treat entrants into a profession, and will make it deeply unattractive to good candidates. it’s a stupid, de-professionalising idea – but it wil mean other countries are unlikely to want our doctors anymore.
4. there is the issue of who will train them in general practice? we don;t have the numbers or spare capacity anymore, especially now we are supposed to oversee and mentor the huge army of untrained unregulated healthcare workers employed under ARRS.
5. at this rate the NHS will have enough GPs by 2039. that’s a loooong way away, and the NHS is unlikely to make it to 2025 under the current management structure of ICBs.

There is, of course, a much simpler option – make the work and pay of a GP attractive. lots of people will return to the profession, return to the country to be a GP, increase their sessions, abandon ICB non-jobs for being a GP again. The workforce *is* out there – they just don’t want to be exploited and abused. If they start by funding us properly (and perhaps setting pay grades for salaried doctors) they could still rescue the situation.
They won’t, of course, they will make things worse.

The Prime Minister 30 June, 2023 10:50 am



Nick Mann 30 June, 2023 10:54 am

I think Darren has it covered. Ditto.

Sam Tapsell 30 June, 2023 11:00 am

Very good news.
Very difficult to deliver.

The Prime Minister 30 June, 2023 11:10 am

Australia invites 16m Britons to work ‘down under’ with visa change………………

well done Daily Nutter (a deranged government propaganda outlet)

Mahesh Kamdar 30 June, 2023 11:16 am

So we will have thousands more staff .
And they will be housed in the Nightingale Centres to work from.
Problem sorted.

Turn out The Lights 30 June, 2023 3:41 pm

So many more staff.No mention of all the support staff that will be needed.One feels this is doomed to fail.Doesnt matter for the Tories they should be blasted out of office with the next GE.Any Tory MPS out of work please apply to us we need someone to clean the toilets.(I wouldnt trust them to do that either)

John Evans 30 June, 2023 9:32 pm

It seems that ever since the financial crisis ie 15 years the various govts have behaved like a drunk lying in his/her own vomit either shouting out random ideas to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be within earshot or otherwise circular arguments with themself.
Barely nothing constructive has happened.
Austerity. Endless Brexit arguments. COVID disorganisation with endless political Machiavellianism – slipping right back into the 1960s / 1970s sick man of Europe.

This is a dying govt spouting rubbish to minimise the number of seats being lost rather than serious long term cross party planning. They know that they will never survive the election and whether it will be achievable is irrelevant. The next lot are picking up the dog end of budget planning and any plans that they may have now are equally fanciful.

It will all boil down to whatever little room there is left to stretch public finances without triggering further risk to govt debt rating / economic collapse.

Right now the profession needs to apply PHEC to primary care – “is it safe”.
Make sure that you, and your relationships, are protected above all else.

John Evans 30 June, 2023 9:33 pm

Oops “Barely anything”

I was being charitable in changing from “nothing” leading to the typo

neo 99 1 July, 2023 9:04 am

Just had a quick overview of other previous plans; gp forward view published 2014. Sensible but lack of committed implementation. Nhs plan 2020; similar to the current one and soon forgotten. I’m sure this will be the same. An uncosted plan is not a plan. It is wishful thinking. The £2.5 billion funding for this over 5 years although trumpeted as new will as usual need to be found from existing efficiency or undespends eg ARRS etc. Increasing recruitment but failing to retain experience will be a disaster for the increased training needs needed to implement this plan. In addition, the elephant in the room is funding. Where is actual costing for the increase in doctor numbers (assuming they can be retained)? Is this going to be within the same current 8% share of the NHS budget handout given to primary care currently or is the envelope going to be increased (not happened in the last 30 years at the expense of secondary care) ? If so that means increased numbers aims to drive down pay and why would anyone do the job as it currently stands with the level of stress and responsibilities for reduced equivalent pay? There is nothing in this plan on how to make general practice a sustainable worthwhile career focused on safety and quality rather than quantity and bums on seats. Yes we need more doctors and nurses but we also need limitation of expectations and a workload cap, more time to manage patients (10 minute appointments should be confined to the bin) reduced beaurocracy( eg appraisals and Revalidation, mandatory training diktats), workable basic IT never mind AI, better estates planning (to accommodate the expansion and current crumbling infrastructure) and a lot lot more. This is more top down ivory tower rubbish with a complete failure to understand or consult with the profession on what is needed.

Ian Haczewski 1 July, 2023 10:22 am

I’m afraid these plans look like a disaster to me , there is a complete misunderstanding of the complexity of patients being serviced in secondary and primary care . Multiple system diseases , cancers , not to mention the increasing complexity of mental heath issues . They want to shorten the training time , really ? We all know how steep the learning curve is when we qualify.
The ability to teach the required skills in an apprenticeship scheme in an NHS as stretched as it is unlikely to be achieved.

Grant Jonathan Ingrams 1 July, 2023 11:12 am

From a general practice perspective this plan will not achieve anything. the plan accepts that the deficit in GPs by 2036 will be 15,000, meaning approximately half of all GP posts will be vacant. This fulfils my oft repeated prophecy that within a decade there will not be a universal GP led NHS service anymore. Also, just increasing numbers of trainees without addressing retention will not help. So far they have ramped up the number of GP trainees by 2000 a year with zero effect on the number of new GPs.

A Non 5 July, 2023 5:55 pm

Dr training to reduce to 4 years (making Drs unemployable outside the UK). GP trainees to spend their entire time in General Practice (use trainees to staff the service) The NHS is disgusting.

Ashley Krotosky 5 July, 2023 6:08 pm

Aussie and other governments must be licking their lips, and rubbing their hands together in glee at the prospect of the UK kindly training up a vastly boosted (if it ever happens) number of UK doctors to provide their services for them.