More than eight in 10 GP training posts have been filled in Scotland so far this year, official figures have revealed.
Recruitment figures published this month by NHS Education for Scotland show 261 out of the current 311 GP trainee posts are now taken. This is a slight increase on last year – one percentage point – when 82% of posts were accepted.
A Scottish Government spokesperson told Pulse trainee recruitment in Scotland is ongoing, with another recruitment round in mid-July for posts starting in February.
But despite the success of filling medical school places, BMA Scotland warned of the ‘huge gap’ in recruitment of trainee GPs, calling on the Government to do more to ensure Scotland remains an attractive location to work in.
Overall, the data shows a 4% rise in the number of all medical trainee posts taken so far this year, with 89% of places filled, the highest level recorded in the past five years at this stage in recruitment.
A total of 41 out of 57 posts advertised in core psychiatry have been filled. Meanwhile, foundation training places are 99% full, and speciality areas of clinical radiology, paediatrics and general surgery have reached a 100% fill rate.
BMA Scotland junior doctors committee chair Dr Lewis Hughes said: ‘Recruitment and retention of valuable, skilled doctors is an issue here in Scotland, and it is a fact that we need more doctors to cope with the ever-increasing demands of a growing and ageing population on our NHS.
‘It is good to see that overall more training posts are being filled. However, it is concerning that there remain huge gaps in recruitment for trainee recruitment in areas such as psychiatry and general practice.
He added: ‘On top of all of this, we need to ensure that once these trainees qualify, that we make Scotland a more attractive place to work, and encourage them that this is a great place to live and build their careers. The Government need to show that they value doctors in Scotland, not just today, but tomorrow, and forever.’
Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said: ‘We recognise that there are still ongoing challenges when it comes to recruiting to certain medical specialities and geographical areas, and we are continuing to address these issues.
‘The £20,000 Scottish Government bursary for GP speciality training posts continues to play a part in directing trainees into hard-to-fill locations across Scotland, with 71% of bursary-eligible posts filled so far.’
As of May 2018, Scotland had put in place an extra 140 medical training places since 2017 in an effort to address doctor shortages.
It came as the UK Government announced five new medical schools in England to boost training places by 1,500 by 2020, as part of a drive to deliver the ‘biggest ever increase’ to the workforce.