The government’s Migration Advisory Committee chose not to add general practice to a list of ‘shortage occupations’ because there was no lack of students coming through medical schools.
A report from the committee concluded: ‘Any shortage of GPs can be addressed by changing the incentive structure such that the GP route becomes more attractive relative to the hospital consultant route.
‘The DH has initiated such a plan. Therefore, rather than immediately putting GPs on the shortage occupation list, we suggest waiting and evaluating the success of this DH initiative.’
Chronic shortage of GPs
RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We are pleased that the Migration Access Committee has drawn attention to the chronic shortage of family doctors in the UK, but we are disappointed at its lack of action to rectify the problem by unlocking the potential of skilled medical professionals in the many countries that have similar health systems to ours.
‘We have an ageing GP workforce, with many family doctors approaching retirement age but not enough medical students choosing to enter general practice to replace them.
‘GPs across the UK are working harder than ever dealing with increasing patient demand with decreasing resources.’
The RCGP has called for an extra 10,000 GPs by 2020, but less than a quarter of foundation trainees opted for general practice in 2014, data from Health Education England show.
Almost 400 GP trainee posts in 2014 were not filled despite an unprecedented third round of recruitment.
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