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Practices failing to recruit enough GPs, HEE claims

17 June 2014

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A large number of GP training places remain vacant throughout the UK, most of which are in the North of England and Scotland, Health Education England (HEE) has revealed.

Despite a second round of recruitment, 451 trainee spaces remained.

Nearly 40% of trainee places remained unfilled in the East Midlands, even though applicants that did not make the cut were assessed again to fill the final spaces, whilst Mersey and the north of England showed similarly worrying figures of 30% of vacancies

BMA GPs committee deputy chair, Dr Richard Vautrey expressed his unease with the situation.

He said: “This worrying shortage of GPs will only exacerbate this crisis and could leave us in a situation where there are simply not enough GPs to cope with the number of patients coming through the door.

“The imbalance in filled posts between the North and South of England could also mean that we are seeing the opening up of a division in the standard of care patients get in different parts of the country.”

Figures revealed that 61.8% of vacancies in the East Midlands local education and training board had been filled, whilst Health Education North East and Health Education North West filled 70.9% and 72.4% of spaces respectively. 

On average across the whole of the UK, 85.1% of GP training spaces were taken up.

In the latest mandate, HHE set a goal of making sure 50% of doctors completing their foundations years will enter GP training programmes by 2016.

Dr Vautrey pointed out the fact that there is already a strain on GP practices because of increasing demands and reduced resources.

Dr Vautrey said: “These figures are deeply concerning and represent a serious threat to the delivery of effective GP services to patients.

“They show that we are experiencing serious shortfalls in the number of doctors choosing to train to become GPs, which will ultimately mean fewer GPs entering the workforce across large parts of the UK, most worryingly in already under-doctored areas such as the North and the Midlands.”

BMA’s Your GP cares campaign is aimed at attracting long term investment to expand GPs and increase the number of other staff, whist improving practice premises, in order to deliver the care required.