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Over half of job-seeking GPs are ‘struggling’ to find role, finds RCGP

Over half of job-seeking GPs are ‘struggling’ to find role, finds RCGP

Six out of 10 GPs looking for jobs ‘are struggling to find vacancies’, a new poll of RCGP members has shown.

The college said that 61% of the survey respondents who had looked for a GP role in the NHS over the past year found it ‘moderately difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to find ‘an appropriate vacancy’ to apply for.

The percentage rose to 72% among GPs in training, and the RCGP pointed to the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) as a key factor leading to these results, as the scheme ‘has directed funding towards other roles in general practice’ and not to GPs.

It comes after the BMA warned that thousands of newly-qualified GPs could be unemployed this August due to a ‘nearly non-existent’ job market in some areas.

And NHS England’s director of primary care Dr Amanda Doyle recently admitted that the jobs that newly qualified GPs would want ‘are not there for them’. 

The RCGP poll also found that the number of long-term vacancies ‘decreased significantly’ over the last few years – in 2022, 44% of GPs said they had at least one vacancy which had been open for more than three months at their practice, compared to just 22% in 2024.

The college stressed that at the heart of this crisis is the ‘chronic underfunding and poor workforce planning’ that have ‘plagued general practice for decades now’.

It also condemned the core practice contract financial uplift of 1.9% announced in March, which it said amounts to a ‘real terms funding cut’. 

RCGP now wants ARRS to be made available to ‘allow practices the flexibility to plan their own staffing requirements’ and ‘to recruit the GPs they need’.

And it called on all the political parties to commit to a ‘significant increase’ in investment to ‘halt the crisis in general practice’ and get it ‘back on track’.  

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said that it is ‘staggering’ to see members say they are struggling to find jobs when general practice is ‘overworked, overwhelmed and in desperate need of more GPs’ and called the employment crisis ‘a scandal’.

The college also highlighted that the latest NHS workforce data showed the average number of patients per fully qualified GP is now 2,294 and rising, meaning each GP is, on average, responsible for 198 more patients than they were five years ago.

Professor Hawthorne said: ‘Patients are crying out for appointments because we don’t have enough GPs to care for them, so it’s a scandal that newly qualified GPs are unable to find work. 

‘We potentially have a situation where hundreds of newly qualified GPs will be unemployed come August, with those on temporary visas being forced to leave the UK, should they not be able to secure employment. 

‘With the cost of training a GP estimated to be over £200K, we need urgent action to put this right – not only for those newly qualified GPs who have had 10 years of hard slog to qualify, but for the sake of existing GPs who are being stretched to their limits and for our patients who are desperate to see their GP but are facing longer and longer waits. 

‘If something isn’t done soon, our brilliant medical students will be deterred from going into GP training because they think they won’t be able to get a job at the end of it, and this will have an even greater impact on patient care in years to come.’  

Pulse has reported on several examples of GPs struggling to find work or redundancies in recent months, and the BMA GP Committee for England has recently warned that general practice has moved from a recruitment to an employment crisis.

The inclusion of GPs in ARRS had been a ‘red line’ for GPCE in 2024/25 contract negotiations but NHS England declined the request on the basis that GPs are core, rather than additional workforce in practices.

But this has led to increased competition for the fewer salaried GP vacancies that are available, with some recent job adverts receiving over 40 applications.

Professor Hawthorne said: ‘The ARRS scheme was set up in 2019 with positive intentions to help with the escalating workloads in general practice, but because funding is only provided for other members of the practice team and not GPs, cash strapped practices are being pushed to take on more of these roles when what they really need first and foremost is more fully qualified GPs. 

‘As the results of our survey today show, schemes like this are now proving counterproductive and leaving GPs without jobs and, in some cases, forcing them to leave the profession altogether or look for opportunities overseas, which is a great loss to the UK. 

‘Members of the wider practice team are valuable and can help to expand the services available to patients, but they aren’t substitutes for the key specialist skills and expertise GPs provide and they can’t be used to plug gaps in the GP workforce.

‘We shouldn’t have to be scrabbling around for piecemeal funding. With the election so close, all parties must commit to substantially increasing the funding for general practice to sort out this mess and get general practice back on track.’

The results

  • The ‘GP Voice survey’ reflects the views of over 2,000 members of the RCGP across the UK and was in field between 13 May and 10 June 
  • 737 respondents had looked for a new role, 449 found it moderately or very difficult to find an appropriate vacancy, including 124 GPs in training 
  • Vacancy data is compared to RCGP’s 2022 survey of 1,095 GPs across the UK 

Source: RCGP



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

Douglas Callow 19 June, 2024 10:46 am

RCGP has become more or less irrelevant No one is listening to those making belated apologies for inaction/ ineffective actions over the last 14 years

J Smith 19 June, 2024 12:56 pm

PCN partners have vested interest in running PA/ pharmay/ Paramedic circus as this saves money for them. If RCGP and BMA are obsolete then not sure who is going to represent GPs?

SUBHASH BHATT 19 June, 2024 2:06 pm

Remind me of 2005 when there were no training places fixed for newly qualified doctors . I personally know several of them went to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Same will happen now. Government want to train a lot more doctors for what? What a waste of money ti train gps and not use them. Government should start employing them in area where list sizes are high. Bring back designated and open area or pay for gp salary to practices twhi employ them.

Deepun Gosrani 19 June, 2024 4:58 pm

We have been trying to recruit a 4-6 session GP in Devon for 3 months without success. Look at Devon LMC website.

john mccormack 19 June, 2024 5:37 pm

General Practice needs to return to the pre 2004 contract funding model when newly appointed GP partners brought considerable NHS funding into the practice when they joined up. This encouraged practices to have lower patient/doctor list sizes and was a win/win for newly qualified GPs and patients. Unfortunately the current funding of general practice is a recipe for greed by existing partners and a poorer quality service to patients.

The Locum 19 June, 2024 8:43 pm

Having moved to Canada this year.
Quality of life superb
Money way better
Housing cheaper
Cost of living the same
Patients extremely friendly and respectful
Weather amazing
Phone lines close at 1530.
Fixed workload.

Not a chance we’re coming back to UK.
I would happily advise anyone to make the decision to practice across the Atlantic.

Plenty of GP jobs also.