GP posts are harder to fill than other NHS positions

GP vacancies are more difficult to fill than most major NHS staff groups in England, official figures show.

Dr Vautrey: Repeated pay cuts may be putting off junior doctors
Dr Vautrey: Repeated pay cuts may be putting off junior doctors

NHS Information Centre data show that long-term vacancy rates have fallen for most major NHS staff groups in England, except for GPs and midwives.

The GP Practice Vacancies Survey 2010, which questioned 2,000 English practices and 200 Welsh practices, says the vacancy rate for GPs is around 2.1 per cent, compared with 1.6 per cent from last year.

Meanwhile, the NHS Vacancy Survey, as at 31 March 2010, showed vacancy rates for medical and dental staff, which includes hospital doctors, are around 4.4 per cent, a decline from the previous year rate of 5.2 per cent. Similarly, the vacancy rate for qualified nursing posts fell from a 2009 level of 3.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2010.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: 'These survey figures show a slight dip in long-term vacancies for most of the main staff groups in the English NHS.

'However, midwives and GPs seem to be the exception to the general pattern. Such findings will be of use to the NHS in showing which job roles appear to be difficult to fill.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned that the figures could show that the profession is heading back to the recruitment crisis it faced pre-2004.

He said: 'There certainly does appear to be an increasing trend for vacancies.

'One thing that might be a factor is that the changes in the previous years, such as repeat GP pay cuts, mean that hospital posts are becoming more attractive to junior doctors.'

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