Plans for seven-day service and 5,000 GPs 'impossible' as fifth of trainee posts unfilled

Plans to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020 and to roll out seven-day practice opening are 'undeliverable', the GPC has warned, as official figures revealed that one in five GP trainee places for 2015 are unfilled.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: warning over depth of GP recruitment crisis (Photo: Pete Hill)

A total of 632 GP trainee posts across England were left unfilled following two rounds of GP recruitment, official figures from the GP National Recruitment Office (GPNRO) reveal.

North-east England struggled to fill even half of its available places, with just a 51% fill rate following the two rounds of recruitment so far. The East Midlands fared little better, with a fill-rate of 57%.

Only two out of the eleven regional areas – Kent and the Thames Valley – managed to fill 100% of available posts, while London filled 98%. More than half of the regions in England filled less than three-quarters of available GP trainee posts.

Map: vacant GP trainee posts

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned that the stark figures showed there was ‘no sign’ that the government could fulfil its pledge to recruit an additional 5,000 GPs or commit to seven-day GP opening.

‘These figures lay bare the huge scale of the crisis facing GP services and patient care,’ he said.

‘More than 600 GP trainee places are unfilled across the country with deeply concerning shortages in the Midlands and the North of England, especially the North East where half of these posts are empty.

‘With medical graduates turning their backs on general practice, there is no sign that the government will be able to fulfil its pledge to recruit 5,000 GPs and open all surgeries seven days a week. Whatever the rhetoric, on the ground these plans are completely undeliverable.

‘The government needs to stop burying its head in the sand and address the real issues facing the GP workforce. Ministers need to undertake a sustained, long term programme of investment in general practice that gives GP services the ability to cope with rising patient demand and makes it an attractive career option for all medical graduates.

‘Most importantly, we need our political leaders to focus on getting current services right, rather than making ludicrous promises that are at total odds with reality.’

GP trainee posts

Kent, Surrey and Sussex – filled 248/248 – 100%

Thames Valley – filled 115/115 – 100%

London – filled 435/443 – 98%

South West – filled 249/262 – 95%

East of England – filled 292/320 – 91%

North West – filled 337/478 – 71%

Yorkshire & Humber – filled 228/295 – 77%

Wessex – filled 97/140 – 69%

West Midands – filled 233/350 – 67%

East Midlands – filled 159/280 – 57%

North East – filled 99/193 – 51%

Total – filled 2492/3124 – 80%

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