Increase in GP trainee numbers

The number of GP trainees is up across the UK for the 2016/17 year and even hard-to-recruit areas, such as the North-East, are feeling the benefit, although targets are still being missed.

Across the whole of the UK, Health Education England (HEE) has missed its mandated target by 10 per cent, having recruited 2,936 trainees for 3,250 positions. However, uptake has improved by almost 80 per cent in areas such as Yorkshire and the Humber and many programmes in the South of England are oversubscribed.

The biggest gaps are in Scotland, where 138 of 425 places are left unfilled; an under-subscription of 32 per cent. Despite how this looks, this is still a considerable improvement on 2015.

Meanwhile, the subscription rate in Northern Ireland is 99 per cent, while Wales, which launched a marketing programme including 320,000 bursaries to promote training earlier this month, is at 96 per cent.

As a spokesman for the HEE pointed out, even though it has been a difficult year for doctors in training, the overall fill rate across all medical specialities has remained fairly constant.

However, a representative of the General Medical Practitioners’ (GPC) education, training and workforce subcommittee said that the current figures still leave general practice in England hundreds of GPs short of the Government’s target. He therefore called on ministers to implement recent promises in the GP Forward View so that sufficient GPs can be recruited and retained.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in Scotland said that the recent announcement by the First Minister to move 11 per cent of NHS spending to general practice should help to turn the situation around.