Half of medical students should become GPs, minister vows

At least 50% of all medical students should go on to become GPs, a health minister has pledged at the launch of a new NHS training body.

Dr Poulter: NHS needs right skills to care for ageing population (Photo: DH)
Dr Poulter: NHS needs right skills to care for ageing population (Photo: DH)

Health Education England, backed by a £5bn budget, will ensure NHS staff have the ‘right values, training, and skills to deliver the very highest quality of care for patients’, health minister Dr Dan Poulter announced on Tuesday.

The government’s commitments for the new arms-length body include a 50% target for medical students going into general practice.

More GPs will be given 'mandatory training' in mental health and children’s health, the minister said, although it remains unclear how this will operate.

By autumn 2013, there will be a five-year workforce plan to ensure the right levels of staffing and training across the health service. By March 2014, 100,000 NHS staff will have received foundation-level dementia training.

Dr Poulter said: ‘As people are living longer with more complex medical and care needs, so must we ensure that our NHS workforce has the right skills and values to provide more care in the community for older patients as well as to give each and every child the very best start in life.

'Plans for the future training and recruitment of our NHS will lead to better working lives for staff and better care for patients.’

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said the organisation aimed to improve the quality of care delivered to patients by ensuring the NHS workforce has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours.

In March, the Centre for Workforce Intelligence, which advises the DH on numbers of medical training posts, said general practice must be made a more appealing career choice for medical students.

Preliminary findings from a GP workforce review by the centre said that if the government’s target of achieving and maintaining 3,250 GP trainees per annum in England is achieved by 2015, ‘it may be sufficient to meet expected patient demand to 2030’.

Professor Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the RCGP welcomed the proposals and called for the necessary funding and resources to be made available to achieve them.

She said: 'The College has long been calling for more GPs and longer training for GPs so we welcome Health Minister Dan Poulter’s pledge to encourage more medical students to continue into general practice - and the commitment that Health Education England will work with us to secure extended and enhanced training for GPs in the future.

'We are particularly pleased to see the emphasis on enhanced GP training in mental health and child health.

'We now look forward to working with HEE, the General Medical Council, the Department of Health and NHS England to secure the funding and resources necessary, and to create a plan that will convert the aspirations set out in this Mandate into a reality.'

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