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Health education bosses miss GP training target

Health Education England has failed to reach its target of delivering 3,250 doctors in GP training by 2016, despite having previously had the deadline extended by a year.

September represents the final intake for GP training in 2016 and there were 2,691 places filled after two recruitment rounds.

While this is an improvement on the previous year, it is still 17% behind its target, which the Coalition Government said should be reached by September 2015 as part of its mandate to HEE in 2014.

In its 2015 mandate to HEE, the DH extended the deadline to August 2016 because of a surprise 15% slump in applications for training.

HEE will be running a third round of recruitment this autumn, but they will not begin training until February 2017, meaning the target has once again been missed despite increases in the number of GP training places being filled.

A HEE spokesperson said: ’We are still recruiting for 2016 – we will publish fill rate when this is complete and stable.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, who chairs the GPC’s education, training and workforce subcommittee, told Pulse: ’We’re not in the least bit surprised the target hasn’t been reached. 

’But the fact is, there’s now an acknowledgement from NHS England that the professions is struggling and for people to consider a general practice, there is a need to invest in it over a sustained period of time. That’s a step in the right direction.’

The GP Forward View set out a number of investments for addressing long-term issues in general practice in the hope of increasing recruitment and retention – however it has been criticised for lacking immediate support.

Since the 3,250 target was set, HEE has been told to deliver 5,000 more GPs, as well as 5,000 nurses, pharmacists, and other staff to support them by 2020.

However, Pulse has shown that this target also looks a long way off.

The Department of Health has yet to issue a 2016/17 mandate for HEE, the organisation in charge of training the NHS’s future workforce, with more than half the year gone.