Would-be GPs lack training places

General practice is the most popular career choice for medical graduates, but many end up in secondary care because they cannot find a training place, according to a GMC survey.

Many more graduates who qualified within the past three years want to be working in general practice than actually have a job in that specialty.

The survey was commissioned by the GMC in the wake of huge publicity last summer about jobless young UK doctors.

The survey did not find high levels of unemployment among young doctors, but it revealed that out of 1,173 new graduates with a job, but not in their preferred specialty, 24 per cent wanted to be in general practice (see box).

RCGP chairman Dr Mayur Lakhani said he would use the findings to push for more training places. 'Education has slipped down the political agenda,' he said.

GPC negotiator Dr Stewart Drage backed the call for more training posts: 'We are short of thousands of GPs to deliver the necessary level of care.'

The survey was conducted by market researchers NOP which questioned 3,000 of the 13,796 medics who graduated between 2003 and 2005. They found that 6 per cent of recent graduates with a job in medicine were working in general practice.

The popularity of general practice as a long-term career goal shot up in 2005, when 40 per cent of graduates named it as their preferred job option, compared with just 30 per cent in 2003.

Contrary to last summer's media reports, employment levels among UK medical graduates were high.

Only 70 recent graduates wanted to work as doctors, but were not doing so. Nearly all had been employed as doctors at some point since graduation.

The great majority of young medics also landed jobs easily.

- Opinion, page 22

What young doctors not in their chosen
specialty would rather work in:

General practice 24%
General medicine 21%
Surgery 17%
Anaesthetics 8%
Paediatrics 5%
A&E 3%
Obstetrics and gynaecology 3%
Psychiatry 3%

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