GP shortage blamed on part-time women doctors

Richard Ford in The Times reports 26th Feb 2015: GP shortage blamed on part-time women doctors 

True enough. But why was it not anticipated? Rationing by under-capacity.. and recruiting from abroad is a “disgrace” and as bad as the bankers causing the country to go to the brink of bankruptcy.

The growing number of female GPs has contributed to a shortage of family doctors of up to 550 a year, the government immigration adviser said yesterday. Women are more likely to work part time, requiring an increase in the number of trainee GPs, it added.

In spite of the shortage, the Migration Advisory Committee rejected a request by the health department to place GPs on a shortage list, which would allow more recruitment from outside the EU. Instead the department was told to recruit from within Europe.

Sir David Metcalf, chairman of the committee, said more should be done to make general practice an attractive option for medical students and suggested a review of pay or working hours.

The health department had failed to meet its target for GPs for some years, Sir David added. “There is no shortage of medical students. The issue is that they have got the incentives wrong and they are not encouraging enough people to go into GP training.”

Official figures show that there are 19,800 men and 20,435 women GPs practising in England and Wales. The committee said there was an estimated annual shortage of 450 to 550.

Department of Health workforce experts had told the committee that the “gender balance in general practice has shifted due to a significant increase in the number of women becoming GPs”, the report said.

It added: “This so-called feminisation of the GP workforce necessitates an increase in the number of trainees in order to maintain the current full-time equivalent workforce, as women are more likely to work part-time, at least for some periods of their career.”

The committee said that if GP shortages continued it should recruit from Europe. “It seemed the health service could do more to source recruits from within the EU notwithstanding what was said about problems with language and competency requirements.”

Paramedics are to be put on the shortage list for the first time because many are leaving their jobs to do doctors’ home visits, operate emergency lines and work in walk-in centres. There is a 10 per cent shortfall in the 12,500 paramedics in England at a time when demands on the ambulance service have increased by more than half.

Other posts added to the list include prosthetists, clinical radiology consultants and non-consultant training roles in paediatrics.

Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We are pleased that the committee has drawn attention to the chronic shortage of family doctors in the UK, but we are disappointed at its lack of action to rectify the problem by unlocking the potential of skilled medical professionals in the many countries that have similar health systems to ours.”

The Department of Health said: “Since 2010 we have 1,000 extra GPs and almost 2,000 extra paramedics, however we accept it is difficult to recruit in some areas of the country. To combat this we will train 5,000 more GPs and ensure half of medical students become GPs by 2020, while incentivising GPs to return from career breaks.”

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, 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 “GP shortage blamed on part-time women doctors

  1. Pingback: Doctors form new pressure group to prevent “marketisation” of NHS – Rationing by chaos | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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