Third round of GP trainee recruitment as uptake of posts remains low

Health Education England (HEE) will hold a third round of GP trainee recruitment for the second year running in an attempt to boost uptake of available posts across the country.

GP trainee: posts left vacant (Photo: iStock)
GP trainee: posts left vacant (Photo: iStock)

Prospective trainees will be able to apply for GP posts in a third application phase this year, as HEE said it ‘made sense’ to run the scheme again following its success at ‘increasing the numbers of doctors in general practice’ last year.

GPonline revealed that last year’s scheme - the first time a third round of GP trainee recruitment had been required - cost £113,000 to fill just 72 out of the 451 posts left open after rounds one and two.

The announcement comes as HEE confirmed it would not release its finalised figures on fill rate across the first two recruitment rounds of 2015 until later in the year, despite these already being pushed back from their usual May release.

HEE was scheduled to discuss GP trainee uptake for the year so far at a board meeting on Wednesday, but withdrew published data at the last minute due to ‘a number of issues’ and inaccuracies.

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Finalised data on fill rate across all three recruitment rounds will not be released until the third round has been completed later this year, although HEE said it could not confirm the exact date as of yet.

Last year’s third round opened on 2 September and ran for two weeks. First offers were sent out in October and HEE published the uptake figures in November.

Official figures revealed earlier this month by Health Education for Scotland suggested that just 80% of training posts were filled across the UK after the first two rounds of recruitment, a drop from last year’s uptake of 86% after two rounds.

The fall in uptake suggests HEE has an uphill battle to achieve its government-mandated requirement of getting the number of GP trainees up to 3,250 by 2016. In 2014, 2,688 trainees opted for a post in general practice.

5,000 GP promise

Despite health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently back-pedalling on his pre-election promise of securing 5,000 new GPs by 2020, a HEE spokeswoman said it was committed to achieving this.

‘Since its establishment in 2013, HEE has invested more in GP training by increasing the number of posts available,’ she said.

‘We spend nearly £500m a year on GP training. We will be providing 5,000 more doctors in general practice by 2020 and we are working with partners on a range of initiatives to support this.

‘We held a third round of recruitment last year, helping us to fill more posts, and it makes sense to do this again to help increase the numbers of doctors in general practice and further improve services for patients.’

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