The NHS is managing to recruit more trainee doctors

Health Education England has announced that they will hit the target of 3,250 GPs starting training this year. Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive, said that they achieved recruitment of 3,019 medical graduates after completing the first round recruitment. That’s a 10% increase on the same phase last year.

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They now confidently expected to hit 3,250 trainee GPs when the second round recruitment is completed. The figures mean that of all the doctors trained in the UK, 50% are going into general practice.

Plans to cut back locum working

Short-term locum work has become a concern for the health service, and Professor Cumming has plans to restrain it. He stated that patients wanted long-term continuity of care, and that the health service wanted to attract locums into substantive posts.

It has to be said that this wish was greeted with some cynicism in the online comments of the medical press.

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Sixty per cent of GPs who completed general practice training five years ago are working either as long-term locums or as doctors in substantive employment. Of course, that means that 40% are not, and this figure has been highlighted by much of the mainstream media.

Professor Cumming pointed to short-term locum assignments as one of the things that the 40% were doing. He stated that beyond five years, every year that passed indicated a rise in the numbers not joining practices in substantive roles, but opting instead for GP locum jobs He questioned how GPs should be trained and what could be done to retain them.

Costs of medical training

He also highlighted the cost to the economy, mentioning a figure of half a million pounds to train a GP. Again, some doctors have queried this figure as pertaining to the entire medical training programme. The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed the difficulty of accurately assessing the cost of the various stages of medical training.

However, it seems clear that trained GPs who aren’t working in the NHS represent lost resources. When they are working overseas in popular locations such as Australia and New Zealand, NHS England’s loss is those countries’ gain.

While the Professor’s news on new trainees was good, he didn’t seem to have many suggestions for initiatives that would deter GPs from working as locums.

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