Third round of GP trainee recruitment cost £113,000 to fill 72 posts

An unprecedented third round of GP trainee recruitment by Health Education England (HEE) cost £113,000 and filled just 72 out of 451 posts that remained vacant after the first two rounds, official data show.

Trainee GPs: recruitment proving difficult (Photo: JH Lancy)
Trainee GPs: recruitment proving difficult (Photo: JH Lancy)

This year’s third round of recruitment, described as a ‘desperate’ push by leading GPs, managed to recruit just 72 additional GP trainees, bringing the total number for 2014 up to 2,688.

There were 3,067 posts available in England this year, meaning 12% of posts remained empty despite the all-out recruitment drive.

HEE’s government-mandated target specifies it must increase the number of trainees opting for general practice to 3,250 a year by 2016, equivalent to half of all medical trainees.

£1,500 per position filled

The extra recruitment round cost the DH an estimated £113,785, according to a breakdown released by health minister Dr Daniel Poulter. This is equivalent to around £1,580 for each of the 72 posts filled.

The breakdown reveals almost £33,000 was spent paying for assessors, £25,000 on trainee expenses and £19,000 on hiring role players. A further £800 was allocated to printing costs.

HEE implemented the additional round in a bid to drive numbers up closer to their mandated target, following especially poor uptake during the first two rounds which left 451 places open, leaving some areas with vacancy rates as high as 40%.

Local education and training boards in the East Midlands and north-east England still have 30% of posts unfilled following the third round, while Yorkshire and the Humber was left with 25%.

London and Thames Valley boards had 98% and 97% positions filled respectively, highlighting a clear divide across the country.

'Innovative programmes'

An HEE spokeswoman said the group would continue to seek out ‘innovative programmes’ to boost GP recruitment closer to target levels.

She said: ‘We have increased GP training posts in 2014 to support our mandate requirement to provide a total of 3,250 posts by 2016. We are doing further work to improve the number of applications and fill rate and looking at innovative programmes to improve recruitment into GP training.’

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