Shortage of GPs will be greater than DoH predictions

Under-recruitment into general practice and a bulge in the numbers of retiring GPs could cause a ‘1990s-style chasm' in the general practice workforce, a GP training expert has warned.

GP shortage greater than predictions
GP shortage greater than predictions

This could force the DoH to embark upon expensive foreign recruitment drives.

Within three to four years, there could be a drastic shortage of whole-time-equivalent GPs, said Professor Pat Lane, director of postgraduate general practice education at South Yorkshire and South Humber deanery.

‘I predict that if something isn’t done, we will have the same chasm in whole-time equivalents as we had in the mid-1990s.

‘We will have to recruit from abroad,’ he said.

More than a third of medical students need to enter general practice, but the first national trainee survey showed that less than a quarter of senior house officers wanted a general practice career. Just over 23 per cent of 25,000 trainees surveyed last July said they wanted to become GPs.

Deaneries have been unable to fill all GP registrar vacancies with suitable applicants. This may reverse next August when the first tranche of F2 applicants  starts specialist training.

But the DoH’s reneging on then health minister John Hutton’s commitment to provide a foundation year rotation in general practice for every trainee will depress numbers.

Compared with the deanery’s prediction, the DoH’s draft workforce projections for 2010/11 showing a potential shortfall of 1,200 GPs pale into insignificance.  

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