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Eligible applicants turned away from GP training despite doctor shortage

Around 50% of eligible applicants were turned away from two GP training schemes in North Wales in the past two years, doctors leaders have discovered.

A freedom of information request by North Wales LMC showed that in both Wrexham and Bangor, applicants who had been deemed suitable for GP training were forced to look for alternative options despite significant GP shortages in the area.

In 2017, figures collected by the LMC showed 22 junior doctors chose GP training in Wrexham as their first choice but of 11 who met the eligibility criteria, only 7 were offered a place.

Figures from Bangor showed a similar pattern with 24 applying, 16 of whom met the criteria but only 12 offered a training place.

And interim figures for initial application rounds in 2018 showed the same proportions of eligible trainees not being offered a place.

Dr Sara Bodey, North Wales LMC chair said it was frustrating to learn that 50% of eligible applicants were being turned away when the area was in desperate need of GPs.

‘If we have clear evidence that we have people who want to work in the area and we’re sending them away, that needs to be addressed,’ she said.

The LMC requested the information after hearing anecdotal stories of trainees being refused a place and instead opting for training in England or even choosing a different specialty.

When they had asked why more places were not available they had been told the demand was not there.

Dr Bodey added: ‘The bottom line is that no one really knows what happens to the trainees that don’t get a place on their first choice scheme.

‘I do think this is the sort of information that should be being collected though by those involved directly in the recruitment process.’

She added: ‘In Wrexham, there have been difficulties with recruitment and practices having to hand back contracts so to have people who have chosen to come here being turned away is frustrating and I hope that is now being recognised.’

The Welsh Government announced several strategies last year to improve GP training uptake.

Third-year medical students in Cardiff are being offered the option to spend a year in general practice in rural areas to boost the number choosing to train as a GP.

And 20 new medical places were being offered to train doctors in North Wales to address concerns that the region was not attracting enough GPs.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Our Train Work Live campaign has resulted in a significant increase in the number of trainee GPs coming to Wales, along with improved fill rates across the three GP speciality training schemes in north Wales.

‘We’ve agreed a collaborative approach between Cardiff and Bangor University, which will ensure that more medical students study in north Wales, and also provide a pathway for doctors being trained completely in north Wales.’