Quarter of Scottish GP training posts vacant after first recruitment round

Over a quarter of GP training posts in Scotland remain vacant after the first of two rounds of recruitment to fill the posts, official data confirm.

Figures from NHS Education for Scotland (NES) show that 249 trainees have been accepted onto GP training courses in 2016 – out of a total 339 available across Scotland – following two advertising phases for the first round of recruitment this year.

This left 90 places vacant across the country, equivalent to 27% of those originally available.

Health Education England (HEE) said it will not release finalised figures for both phases of the first round for England and the UK until the whole recruitment year concludes.

The Scotland data expose a stark picture compared to other specialties, which combined had a 98% fill rate, with just 12 out of almost 500 overall vacancies failing to secure candidates.

The majority of these (10) were for core psychiatry training. Most specialties – including anaesthetics, obstetrics and paediatrics – have already filled all available places.

GP recruitment

A total of 10 more trainees were accepted onto GP places this year compared to 2015, but this failed to cover the rise in overall posts available, which increased by 34.

As a result, the proportion of training places left vacant stands slightly higher than last year, at 27% compared to 22%.

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of RCGP Scotland, said: ‘Although the figures for the percentage take up of the first round of GP training in Scotland look worse than last year’s, we are hopeful that, once the result of the recent second round of training places is added in, the country shall be in a better position than it was last year.

‘Attracting trainees to general practice in Scotland continues to be difficult and interventions so far made by the Scottish government have yet to filter through to grassroots GPs. There is much more to be done, starting with the provision of adequate funding through the coming draft budget. There must be an immediate and clear commitment to adequately fund the service.’

A spokesman for NES said: ‘We work closely with the Scottish government and our stakeholders to ensure that NHS Scotland continues to recruit and train the right numbers of staff to deliver quality healthcare for the people of Scotland.'

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