NHS chief brands GP recruitment strategy ‘crazy’. Now that government has abandoned it, is General Practice is a key election issue

Sofia Lind reports in GP Magazine 1st September 2014: NHS chief brands GP recruitment strategy ‘crazy’

Now that government has abandoned it, is General Practice is a key election issue? Which party can magic GPs from nowhere in 5 years?

Rabbit

Responding to questioning by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today (Monday), Mr Stevens said ‘there clearly are substantial pressures’ on the GP workforce which mean that NHS England has to ‘make coming into GP training more attractive, including attractive relative to hospital medicine’.

Mr Stevens blamed recruitment trends over the past 10 years for the situation NHS England now finds itself after being put under pressure by PAC chair Margaret Hodge MP on whether the NHS is recruiting enough GPs within the right timescale to ensure there are sufficient GPs.

The PAC was questioning NHS England’s management team in light of a National Audit Office (NAO) report published in July that showed that 60% of out-of-hours providers are unable to fill gaps in GP rotas.

Mr Stevens said: ‘GP numbers are increasing but there clearly are substantial pressures and one of the things that we have got to do is make coming into GP training more attractive, including attractive relative to hospital medicine because one of the great unplanned consequences of the last 10 years is that whereas GP numbers are up by between a fifth and a quarter, the number of hospital consultants is up by 76% in whole-time equivalent terms.’

‘If someone had said 10 years ago that the NHS’s game plan for the next 10 years is to have between three and four times more hospital consultants added to the roster than GPs, people would have said “that’s crazy”, but that is what has happened.’

Asked by the committee why he thought that was, Mr Stevens said: ‘My personal point of view is that one of the things that has driven that is the way that the European Working Time Directive has been implemented. I think it has had the effect of sucking in doctors into hospitals to create legal rotas and to some extent training has been the tail that has wagged the dog.’

Mr Stevens also admitted that NHS England has no game plan for how what sort of increase in GP numbers that the health service will need by the end of this decade, but blamed the Government’s lack of direction on how much NHS funding will be available to staff the NHS in general.

He said: ‘We don’t have a single model for GP numbers and the simple reason is that we have no idea what resource is going to be available to the NHS come 2020. As and when Parliament sets us a budget through the end of the decade we will then be able to work out what our staffing can be based on the resources.’

It comes as health education managers in the south west of England have been forced to to arrange a ‘crisis summit’ to tackle acute problems in the GP workforce and as Health Education England (HEE) announced in July that it was running an unprecedented third recruitment round for GP trainees after Pulse revealed that as many as 40% of training places were going unfilled in some parts of the country.

Revealed: 15% drop in GP training applications set … – Pulse

Britain’s GP black holes: The North is running out of family

RCGP urges graduates to choose general practice as ‘the future’s bright’

GP Magazine 9th Jan 2015:  Dr Maureen Baker: General practice is a key election issue

This entry was posted in A Personal View, General Practitioners, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

1 thought on “NHS chief brands GP recruitment strategy ‘crazy’. Now that government has abandoned it, is General Practice is a key election issue

  1. Pingback: The hidden danger ahead. GP practices may not have the financial strength and planning foresight to trade through when wages rise. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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