HEE extends GP trainee target by another year after deadline missed

Health Education England (HEE) has once again dialled back its deadline for ensuring half of medical school graduates go into GP training to next year after failing to recruit enough trainees in 2016.

HEE's mandate to ensure 3,250 students, around half of those completing foundation training, enter GP training has been pushed back a year to 2017 after it failed to reach the target this year.

GP recruitment saw an overall boost this year – attracting 167 more than in 2015 – but this still fell 314 short of the mandate, with 2,936 accepted into posts overall.

HEE said its mandate had now been ‘refreshed’ for the current financial year following discussions with DH policy leads and health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

GP recruitment

The mandate document, which was released last month and covers April 2016 to March 2017, says delivery of the targets ‘is a key part of HEE’s strategic objectives’ and warns that ‘there is a reputational risk if HEE does not achieve its mandate deliverables’.

It states that HEE will ‘ensure a minimum of 3,250 trainees continue to be recruited to GP training programmes in England in 2017’.

This mandate was previously set to be completed by 2016, after being extended once before from the original deadline of 2015.

The mandate’s further objectives state HEE will implement plans to support 5,000 more doctors working in general practice by 2020, as per the government’s election pledges, in addition to increasing other multi-professional primary and community staff by 5,000, including 1,000 physician associates.

The latter have ‘significant potential’ to address workload issues in primary care as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the mandate says.

GP workforce

It also commits to continue supporting ‘return to practice’ initiatives across the general healthcare workforce, ‘with a specific emphasis on nursing and general practice’. This includes an aim to increase the number of nurse returners by 2.5% by March 2017.

Work to ‘explore’ options of enhancing GP training on mental health conditions and child healthcare will also take place.

The document says: ‘This mandate reflects the priority objectives of the government in the areas of workforce planning, education, training and development for which HEE and the local education and training boards have responsibility.

‘This mandate sets out priorities to be delivered through 2016/17 and beyond in this parliament. It will be reviewed and refreshed on an annual basis. HEE produces a business plan each year which demonstrates how it will meet its legal duties and deliver the objectives set out in the mandate.’

Photo: iStock

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