The GP National Recruitment Office (GPNRO) website through which prospective GP trainees apply for training posts is advertising just 9% of the GP training places it offered at the beginning of the year.
Although the GPNRO data has given an inaccurate picture of the overall fill rate for GP trainee posts in the past, it suggests that up to 91% of posts have been filled in England so far this year, after just one recruitment round.
It comes after official data released earlier in the year also hinted that GP recruitment is on the rise.
Health Education England (HEE) took the unprecedented step to release early recruitment figures in March – from halfway through the first recruitment round – which showed that recruitment was at 70%, hailed by the RCGP as a ‘turning tide’ in recruitment.
The current figures would represent a significant boost compared to previous years, and could hint at the beginnings of a resurgence in the GP workforce in the near future.
It suggests that recruitment levels have already surpassed the total number of doctors recruited over three advertising rounds last year.
Following just one round of recruitment last year, only two thirds (69%) of places had been filled. At the end of three recruitment rounds in 2015, 89% of total posts had been filled.
GP training posts
The data suggests there are currently only 300 GP places left unfilled in England, compared to almost 1,000 at the same time last year.
The data also suggest there are 90 training places left in Scotland – 28% of those on offer at the beginning of the year – and 44 in Wales – 32% of the total number of places. Only six out of 85 (7%) of places in Northern Ireland are still available.
The website does state that the data is ‘indicative only’ and it may not represent actual fill-rates. Data for one of the 11 deaneries – Yorkshire & the Humber – is also unavailable at the time of publication.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It’s good news if we can recruit more GPs, we need to get as many as possible as quickly as possible.
‘Until we've seen the second round of recruitment we need to be cautious before we can fully say we've succeeded in recruiting the levels that will replace those that are planning on leaving or retiring.’
HEE said it could not give confirmed numbers on GP recruitment until the 'on-going' recruitment process was complete.