GP leaders demand UK-wide workforce plan for primary care

GP leaders are calling for a UK-wide plan to prevent a primary care workforce crisis ahead of a predicted wave of retirements.

Dr McCarron-Nash: 'It costs £360,000 to train a GP at the taxpayer’s expense and they are finding there is no employment'
Dr McCarron-Nash: 'It costs £360,000 to train a GP at the taxpayer’s expense and they are finding there is no employment'

GPC negotiator and workforce lead Dr Beth McCarron-Nash told GP there needed to be a national workforce survey to plan for a retirement bulge, with official data showing that 10% of GPs are more than 60 years old.

Her comments came after a motion was passed at the BMA annual representatives meeting in Bournemouth yesterday, calling for a restriction on new medical schools in the UK ‘unless it becomes clear there is a need to increase medical student intakes to maintain the workforce’.

Dr McCarron-Nash said the motion is about getting the basics right as many students are finding themselves saddled with £70,000 debt with no hope of a job.

She said: ‘It is a disgrace. It costs £360,000 to train a GP at the taxpayer’s expense and they are finding there is no employment.

‘Accurate figures are needed. There are issues about GP workforce figures and we need to know the numbers. We need to address the future issues and we need to know what need the upcoming retirements will create.

‘This motion is about the start of the journey. We need to make sure we have the basics right. There needs to be basic workforce planning so we can plan for the upcoming retirement bulge and to make sure there is no oversupply.

‘We should be trying to encourage people from all backgrounds to enter medicine and not be saying that you can be saddled with a £70,000 debt and have no hope for a job to enable that to be paid back.’

Representatives also passed a motion as a reference calling on the BMA to ‘undertake detailed modelling of future healthcare workforce, to inform debate and facilitate honest advice for those in training.’

Another motion calling for better alignment of the number of  medical students who graduate with the requirement for training posts and career grade posts was passed as a reference.

Yesterday representatives called on the BMA to develop guidelines for doctors working while pregnant. A motion passed at the conference called on the BMA to share the guidelines with NHS Employers ‘in order to raise awareness among all involved of the available evidence and to improve working conditions’.

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