HEE chief executive Professor Ian Cumming has confirmed that 3,019 doctors have been accepted into training posts after the first round of recruitment. This represents a 10% increase from the same stage last year - and is only 74 short of the total recruited over two rounds in 2017/18.
'I am delighted to be able to announce that a record 3019 doctors have accepted posts on GP training programmes in round one of our recruitment programme so far this year,' he said.
'This is a record breaking figure and is up over 10% on the figures for this time last year. We still have round two to go but I am confident that we will hit the 3,250 target for the first time in our history.'
In 2017, GPonline reported that a total of 3,093 trainees entered posts across England, which fell short of HEE’s target but was a record total.
The latest recruitment figures are a welcome boost for health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, who admitted this month that he was struggling to deliver his plan to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020/21.
However, although more trainees than ever before are entering the workforce, figures released earlier this year show that a record number of GPs are planning to quit within the next five years.
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'It's good to see an increase in GP trainees as practices and patients really need to see more doctors entering the workforce.
'However, training even this number of GPs will still not be enough to expand the workforce to the level we need with so many GPs reducing their sessions in order to cope with workload pressures, or leaving the profession altogether. The recent worklife survey showed that plans to retire in the next five years were at an all time high so we need to focus on retention as much as recruitment.'
Official data published last month showed that the total full-time equivalent GP workforce fell by more than 1,300 in the two years to March 2018 - a drop of 4%.
Analysis by GPonline published earlier this week showed that fewer GPs are supported by the retainer scheme than quit the profession each month.