GP trainee vacancies rise after first 2017 recruitment round

GP trainee recruitment appears to have slowed this year, with more places left available after the first round of recruitment in 2017 compared with 2016.

GP trainee (Photo: JH Lancy)
GP trainee (Photo: JH Lancy)

The General Practice National Recruitment Office (GPNRO) website, through which prospective students must apply for GP training posts, is advertising 592 training posts in England in its second round of GP recruitment, which opens on 1 August.

The figures, which Health Education England (HEE) stresses are ‘indicative’ only of places remaining, suggest that 18% of the around 3,250 places available at the beginning of the year have yet to be filled.

It is no longer offering any places on its global health fellowship (GHF) – which offers trainees a 12-month placement in South Africa – or its academic clinical fellowship (ACF) courses.

GP training vacancies

By this time last year, GPNRO reports show that there were 559 posts left vacant at the end of round one of recruitment – some 33 less than the indicative figure for this year, suggesting the pace of recruitment has slowed since last year.

The figures come in stark contrast to suggestions last month that recruitment was ahead this year of where it was in 2016.

HEE advertises the first round twice, which covers the August intake of trainees. Applications for the second round open on 1 August, for posts commencing in February, and it is traditionally less popular than the first.

GP workforce

HEE’s mandate for 2017 dictates it must recruit 3,250 trainees into GP training programmes in England, in addition to working towards its longer-term goal of ensuring 5,000 additional doctors are working in general practice by 2020.

It failed to reach the 3,250 target last year, amassing a total of 3,019 by the end of 2016, suggesting that the target will be a struggle again in 2017.

The GPNRO website also suggests there are 72 vacancies remaining in Scotland, 28 in Wales and 6 in Northern Ireland, with a total of 698 vacancies remaining across the whole of the UK.

A HEE spokeswoman said the vacancy figures for 2017 were ‘indicative numbers and subject to change’. The full picture on GP recruitment will not be clear until this process is complete at the end of the year, she added.

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