MPs call for 17% rise in trainee GPs

A 17% rise in recruitment to GP training is needed if the NHS is to meet the challenge posed by growing numbers of patients with chronic illnesses, according to MPs.

GP training: recruitment to the specialty must increase (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
GP training: recruitment to the specialty must increase (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

An inquiry by the House of Commons Health Committee found that cost pressures from treating the 15m patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma in England are likely to cost the NHS an extra £4bn a year by 2016.

MPs said plans to deal with this challenge by moving patient care into the community required Health Education England (HEE) to boost the numbers of GPs entering the workforce.

The Centre for Workforce Intelligence told the inquiry it recommended a 17% increase in recruitment into GP specialty training.

HEE will also need to set out a strategy for 'the adaptation of the present medical workforce, and the training of the future workforce, to the delivery of a model of integrated care centred on the person'.

MPs said moving more of these patients into primary care from secondary care could lead to more effective management of their conditions.

But they said it was 'not yet proven' that this would lower costs, and warned that cutting secondary care services without ensuring primary care could manage the influx of patients would be a ‘recipe for disaster’.

'Treat the person, not the condition'

Care for long-term conditions accounts for 55% of GP appointments, 68% of outpatient and A&E appointments, and 77% of inpatient bed days.

The committee said the NHS, which is ‘overwhelmingly set up to address single diseases’, was not adequately recognising patients with multiple long-term conditions.

It recommended that the DH revised its working definition of long-term conditions to emphasise ‘treating the person, not the condition’.

This could see GPs meeting with patients, community health services and specialists to draw up personalised care programmes to manage their long-term conditions.

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