GP recruitment is rising and more on track to hit target levels, says HEE

'Good progress' has been made on GP recruitment, with more than 100 additional places filled compared to last year, Health Education England (HEE) has said.

GP trainee: uptake of posts rising, says HEE (Photo: JH Lancy)
GP trainee: uptake of posts rising, says HEE (Photo: JH Lancy)

The possibility of falling short of GP recruitment targets has been downgraded from a red to an amber alert on HEE’s latest corporate risk register, following ‘good progress’ on recruitment.

The document, published this week, outlines the biggest risks facing the organisation - including the possibility it ‘will not be able to attract sufficient trainees to meet mandate requirements’.

Its mandate for 2017 dictates it must recruit 3,250 trainees into GP training programmes in England, in addition to ensuring 5,000 additional doctors are working in general practice by 2020.

Concerns that HEE will fail to recruit enough GP trainees has been designated a maximum ‘red’ alert for the past several years, because this has been seen as highly likely to occur and to have a significant impact.

But the organisation's latest board papers reveal recruitment in 2017 currently stands 3.5% higher than the same period in 2016  a year that saw record recruitment levels – with 117 additional trainees accepted onto places.

The 3,250 target has been pushed back repeatedly over several years after HEE fell consistently short of the requirement.

GP recruitment

HEE said it had taken a number of actions to mitigate the risk, including the procurement of a marketing agency to promote GP training, launching the induction and refresher scheme and plans to ‘build the multidisciplinary team’ to relieve pressures on GPs.

It said it had increased GP training capacity and increased recruitment in order to ‘support overall net growth of 5,000 extra doctors in general practice by 2020’.

These actions have helped reduce the potential 'impact' of not recruiting enough GPs, HEE said, causing the overall risk to be lowered from red to amber. However, the other aspect that determines the overall severity of a risk  the 'likelihood' of it occuring  is still ranked as high.

HEE described 2016 GP recruitment as ‘the highest it has ever been’, recruiting a total of 3,019 – including ST1, pre-specialty trainee, GPF2 and broad-based training – against its target of 3,250.

GP acceptances from part-way through round one of recruitment this year – for training to commence in August this year – have increased by 117 over the same period last year, an increase of 3.5%.

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