New recruitment drive will emphasise flexibility of GP careers

General practice should cast off the stuffy reputation of traditional models of working and embrace 'exciting' new systems to attract trainees into the workforce, Health Education England (HEE) has said.

Selling new ways of working and flexible careers will be emphasised as part of plans to get more trainees into the profession and build a positive future for general practice, HEE bosses have told GPonline.

The push will see less of an emphasis on traditional models, which trainees said represented an outdated view of general practice and does not appeal to the next generation of doctors.

It comes as the current recruitment phase and accompanying campaign are due to come to a close on Thursday.

Results from an earlier recruitment phase suggest the number of trainees could be significantly higher this year, although HEE still identified the possibility of not improving uptake enough as its ‘greatest risk’.

Future of general practice

HEE said it would focus on highlighting how flexible a career in general practice can be to entice new recruits as part of a multi-pronged approach – with an emphasis on the opportunities of a portfolio career. The body is also looking at how to make it easier for GPs to have more flexible careers.

HEE also aims to offer 250 places on its post-CCT training courses over the next year. These allow newly-qualified GPs to do a further year of training in a specialism, often completed while working part time as a GP.

HEE director and dean of education, Professor Simon Gregory – also a GP in Northampton – said HEE was not trying to ‘gloss over’ the issues overwhelming general practice, but promote a positive vision for the future.

‘I love being a GP – I just don’t like general practice at the moment,’ he told GPonline. ‘The workload, the bureaucracy and all the other things like pensions are a major factor. What we’re not trying to do is pretend that general practice is in a perfect state at the moment.

‘Doctors in training are intelligent young people and they want an authentic message. Our message is about the vision for general practice – it has reached its nadir, but with things like the GP Forward View, we’re articulating a vision for primary care that could be really special.

‘What we’re trying to say is – be a part of that future. I know that people have criticised us for trying to recruit into general practice when they say it’s so awful, but actually one of the best solutions is having a sufficient workforce.'

New care models

Dr Mas Amin, who is just about to begin training as a GP, has worked on the GP recruitment campaign. He was planning to train in radioloy, but he now intends on becoming a GP after learning how the profession will change.

He said: ‘In medical school we hear a lot of GP bashing – we are presented with an old-fashioned model of general practice and you leave not really thinking about general practice. But that isn’t general practice, and isn’t what it will look like in the future.

‘For me and my friends it’s certainly the future of general practice that is exciting. Already when you go to certain practices they're very big, they have a pharmacy, there are different healthcare professionals – you're not just there by yourself in a little room.

‘A lot of medicine is about team work – and I certainly enjoy that – and I think having that whole community hospital sort of vibe definitely appeals to me.

‘This is something I’d recommend 100% to others now – when I talk to my friends I don’t tell them why I picked it, I tell them what general practice is now and what it will become later. And just by giving them the facts they are now thinking about it.’

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