Exclusive: Half of young GPs cannot find permanent work

Survey reveals continued difficulties for newly qualified GPs but trainee numbers to rise by 400

Many of this summer’s cohort of newly qualified GPs have no fixed jobs yet, GP can reveal.

Just over half of the new GPs who answered an England-wide exit survey had a job by the end of last month.

Yet deaneries have been told to take on 400 extra trainees next year – a 13 per cent rise.

Professor David Sowden, joint chairman of the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) Programme Board, said last month that ‘expanding GP training places may well be challenging in those parts of the country where GP registrars currently face difficulties finding their first permanent post’.

Fifty-four per cent of new GPs answering a Committee of General Practice Educators (COGPED) survey said they had a job by the end of September.

Dr Simon Plint, COGPED vice chairman, admitted that increasing training numbers ‘feels counter-intuitive’.

‘We know that newly qualified GPs are very concerned about underemployment.

‘COGPED is closely following the employment experience of the latest cohort of doctors exiting GP training programmes,’ Dr Plint said.

So far around 400 new GPs have responded to the COGPED survey, a 40 per cent response rate.

But Dr Plint advised ‘the utmost caution’ in drawing conclusions.

In 2004, when COGPED last surveyed GPs, only four newly qualified GPs in 10 had a job at this point in the year.

Nottingham GP and course organiser Dr Prit Chahal said finding partnerships and jobs locally was becoming more difficult. ‘In Derby there were concerns that a large number of GPs who arrived in the 1960s from the Indian subcontinent would be retiring. I do not think this happened as expected.’
Dr Plint insisted that long-term job prospects for GPs are good as care shifts into the primary sector and fewer doctors work full-time.

But Dr Adrian Haslam, a recently qualified Bolton GP working as a locum, said few of his peers had permanent jobs. ‘There is an excess of young trained GPs. With more coming through, I do not know how the job market will absorb them.’

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

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