GP workforce growing six times slower than other specialists

The number of specialist doctors in the UK has increased 5.5 times as fast as the number of GPs since 2010, figures from the GMC register reveal.

Specialists on the GMC register swelled in rank by almost a quarter (22%) from 2010 to 2014, compared to an increase in GPs of just 4%, the GMC’s annual state of medical education and practice (SOMEP) report shows.

This means that doctors on the specialist register have increased at a rate proportionally 5.5 times larger than GPs, highlighting slow general practice recruitment.

GMC data show that doctors only on the specialist register increased by 14,828 to 81,386 – while doctors only on the GP register increased by just 5,232 to 63,679.

Altogether, the number of registered doctors has increased by 12% since 2010.

GMC complaints

There are three times as many doctors in training to be specialists (32,672) than GP trainees (10,795). The GMC said that because specialty training takes longer a greater number of doctors in specialty training would be expected even if the annual outturn was the same.

The report also reveals that complaints to the GMC stand 54% higher than they did in 2010, although 2014 saw a drop of 2.3% compared to the year before.

Of the 2,750 complaints investigated in 2014, more than half (1,428) were closed without further action.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director at Medical Protection said: ‘While it is appropriate that the GMC investigates and sanctions unacceptable conduct, the high proportion of investigations that are closed with no further action indicates that more emphasis needs to be on effective triaging of complaints, and the current threshold for opening an investigation may be too low.

‘We would urge the GMC to encourage and promote greater use of local resolution in the first instance. In addition, it is important for practices and trusts to offer a robust and effective complaints service which can command the trust and confidence of their patients, and help to reach a resolution for all parties quickly.’

Photo: iStock

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