Record GP recruitment in 2017 'not enough to reverse crisis'

Health Education England (HEE) has hailed GP recruitment for 2017 as the 'highest ever in NHS history', after it just missed out on hitting its target of recruiting 3,250 trainees this year.

GP trainee (Photo: JH Lancy)
GP trainee (Photo: JH Lancy)

A total of 3,093 trainees will enter GP training posts in England this year - beating the 2016 total by 74.

Figures published by HEE claim that the total number of 'GP starters' for 2017 is 3,157 - but this figure includes 64 doctors starting courses for clinicians not yet ready or eligible to join GP training.

The lower 3,093 figure is still a record, but falls more than 150 short of HEE's 3,250 target for GP trainees – meaning it achieved 95% of the target level.

The GPC welcomed the figures, but warned that more must be done to reverse the continuing overall decline in GP numbers. Official data last week revealed that the full-time equivalent GP workforce dropped by almost 1,300 in the past two years.

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GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The success of general practice is dependent on having a well-staffed and motivated workforce, a point that the BMA has been making to politicians and which encouragingly many have now accepted.

‘It is good news therefore that an increased number of medical graduates are choosing general practice as a career and that the enhanced recruitment scheme is to receive more funding.

‘However, as last week’s figures from NHS Digital demonstrated, the overall size of the GP workforce in England shrank...as GPs leave the profession because of unsustainable levels of workload and a decade of underinvestment in general practice.

GP trainees

‘The government and NHS managers need to work with the BMA to deliver on the plans we outlined in our Saving General Practice report and ensure these fundamental issues affecting the retention of GPs are addressed urgently.’

HEE chief executive Professor Ian Cumming said: ‘This year’s figure of 3,157 is yet another record and is a testament to all of the hard work that has gone into this priority area.

‘It is great news for the NHS and also great news for patients who will benefit from our continued investment in GP training through a wide range of initiatives and programmes to keep the training numbers growing year on year.

‘But despite what has been another record-breaking year we know that more still needs to be done.

‘We will continue to develop initiatives such as our general practice marketing campaign, now in its third year, to help raise awareness of general practice as a career of choice and its unique selling points as a specialty.’

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