Consultants struggle to find work, as GP recruitment remains low

Newly qualified consultants are struggling to find posts, a survey suggests, as GP leaders warn recruitment into general practice remains 'worryingly low'.

Dr Khan: ‘Juniors need to be realistic about their choice of speciality.'
Dr Khan: ‘Juniors need to be realistic about their choice of speciality.'

A survey by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found that, on the completion of their Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), many consultants are struggling to find posts.

The RCP surveyed 441 doctors in all medical specialties except general practice who had completed the specialist CCT within the past 12 months. Compared with surveys from the previous three years, the RCP reported that the number of trainees successfully gaining a post following qualification had fallen.

Hertfordshire LMC representative Dr Sarah Khan said that, unlike their consultant colleagues, newly qualified GPs did not seem to be struggling to find posts. She said it was unfortunate that some specialist doctors were struggling to find work, but it was important for junior doctors to be realistic about their career path.

‘Juniors need to be realistic about their choice of speciality,' she said. 'Not everyone can become a surgeon. I think we must ensure that juniors are well informed about their future prospects and are aware of the benefits of a career in general practice when making their choice in F2.’

RCGP chair Dr Claire Gerada said that it had been clear for some time that recruitment into general practice was low. ‘We know we have too few GPs.’

Dr Gerada said the problem often started in medical school, where general practice was not promoted enough to junior doctors. 'Junior doctors are exposed to too few GPs whereas they are exposed to lots of specialists.’

Dr Gerada said it was important to use tools such as social media ‘to demonstrate to graduate doctors how wonderful it is in general practice.’

Devon GP and GPC member Dr Beth McCarron-Nash agreed that recruitment in general practice was 'worrying low'. 'Recruitment into general practice training posts is also down with more areas relying on second-stage applicants to fill GP training posts,' she said.

Dr McCarron-Nash warned that there were no financial incentives in the current economic environment for practices to take on GPs as partners. ‘Only investment in practices and premises to enable them to take on partners and expand will significantly change this,’ she said.

Dr McCarron-Nash added: ‘The whole workforce debate is long overdue. If we don't take the initiative and shape general practice into a form which works for us, we may risk the independent partnership model which has worked so well for us and our patients for the last 50 years.

‘It is up to us to ensure that independent contractor general practice survives and thrives in the new NHS to protect our practices and ensure career progression and partnership opportunities for our younger colleagues continue. The future is in our hands and how we enable this to happen is a matter for us all.’

Dr Gerada said that the RCGP's 10-year plan, due to be published in the autumn, would address GP workforce and recruitment issues.

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