Jobs warning as GP training posts rise by 13%

England's GP training schemes are to expand by 400 places from next year, an increase of 13 per cent. The move comes despite the BMA's warning that as many as 1,000 of this year's graduates will struggle to find work.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said that the extra places 'will have an impact on doctors who have just qualified, and their ability to find good, sustainable pay'.

'This expansion could be to do with the need to staff the Darzi centres and drive down wages,' she added. Dr McCarron-Nash said the extra training posts did not reflect the workforce's needs.

The increase signals a fundamental rebalancing of the workforce in favour of primary and community care. The NHS Next Stage Review pinpointed GP expansion as a top priority.

Professor David Sowden, joint chairman of the Modernising Medical Careers England Programme Board, reassured directors of postgraduate GP education in a letter last week that: 'Sufficient funding is available and identified to allow the intake to year 1 of GP specialty training programmes to increase by 400.'

Deaneries will share out training places across their patch focusing on areas of doctor shortage. But the workforce expansion is expected to create tensions in parts of the country where this August's registrars are still jobless, or only able to find work as locums.

In Yorkshire SHA, for example, as many as 40 per cent of newly qualified GPs are thought still to be looking for a post.

In London, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number unable to find full-time work is much higher.

The National GP Recruitment Office says it will have no difficulty filling the extra training places.

'We had about 450 applicants on the reserve list this year,' said Gai Evans, national recruitment officer.

Numbers of UK applicants will rise from 2010 as increased numbers from UK medical schools feed through from foundation programmes into specialty training.

Applicants from 2009 will have to complete three full years of GP training with allocation to ST2 and ST3 posts no longer permitted.

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

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