Nicola Sturgeon to unveil 33% rise in GP training posts in Scotland

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon will today announce plans for a 33% rise in the number of GP training posts in Scotland, according to reports welcomed by top GPs.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

The plans would see GP training posts in Scotland increased from around 300 to 400, and could come alongside a bid to encourage GPs on career breaks to return to work, according to the Herald Scotland newspaper.

GP leaders backed the move, but warned that more needed to be done to attract young doctors into the profession. GPonline reported earlier this year on data from Health Education for Scotland that showed just 79% of the 305 training posts available in Scotland in 2015 had been filled.

An RCGP Scotland manifesto published in September called for an extra 740 GPs by 2020. Official data show whole-time equivalent GP numbers in Scotland rose by just 35 between 2009 and 2013.

The Herald reported that Ms Sturgeon will say: 'We’re already doing more to encourage people to choose GP training – for example by increasing medical students’ exposure to primary care when they are undergraduates. And I can confirm today a further important step. We are increasing the number of training places for GPs by 33% – from 300 to 400.

GP training posts

'That change will take place next year, meaning that from 2019 onwards, we will see an additional 100 trained GPs each year.'

RCGP Scotland chairman Dr Miles Mack said: 'We are very pleased to see such a clear statement of intent coming from the first minister. These are excellent initiatives in line with our recommendations. Combined with the recent announcement of the dismantling of the heavily time-consuming QOF, this will have a real impact on increasing the workforce and reducing the workload of GPs as they strive to care for and protect people throughout Scotland.

'The first minister is absolutely correct that the quickest and most cost-effective means of easing the situation is to have those who have left the profession, or who are practicing elsewhere, return. We eagerly await the detail of that scheme. Increasing trainee places to 400 per year will help a great deal in the longer term. 

'We cannot relax, however. It is known that last year not all of the spaces available for training were taken up and we must ask what encouragements are to be offered to those leaving their medical foundation training to choose general practice.'

Photo: Douglas Robertson

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