GP trainee map reveals stark north-south recruitment divide

David Millett in GP magazine 18th December 2015 reports: GP trainee map reveals stark north-south recruitment divide 

It is only longer term thinking which can address this problem. Rationing of places in Medical Schools has led to chronic undercapacity. Where there is a world market, which there is in the skills needed to be a doctor, and global undercapacity, labour will move to where it feels most appreciated, and where the shape of the job is better. The north south divide is not new… but it is now worse than ever.

GP trainee recruitment figures for 2015 reveal a clear north-south divide, with a third of posts vacant in parts of the Midlands and north of England after three rounds of applications while other areas filled all posts after a single round. Explore the data below with a series of graphs and an interactive map.

This year’s third GP trainee application phase saw 180 new doctors accepted to posts, bringing the total number for 2015 up to 2,769 – 89% of the 3,117 that were available.

But there is a noticeable divide between the north and south, with areas in the south tending to fill far more of their available posts than those further north. Click on the regions of our interactive map to show more detailed information.

Map: GP trainee vacancies

( The interactive map on the GP Magazine website excludes Scotland, Wales and N Ireland but they would be more like the North East. NHSreality includes 3 snapshots to show the numbers in the North compared to the West Midlands and the most popular SouthEast.)

North East

West Midlands

KSS map

The official recruitment figures, released by Health Education England (HEE) on Friday, show that the most sought-after locations filled the majority of their places within a single round of recruitment, leaving worst struck areas with two thirds of posts left empty.

The figure below shows the proportion of posts filled in the first, second, then third recruitment rounds – followed by the amount enrolled in the preparation for specialty training scheme. Grey represents the number of training posts that remain unfilled.

GP recruitment waves 2015

Overall fill rate for GP trainee posts increased slightly from 87% to 89% this year, but analysis of the figures shows that the three regions with the lowest fill rates this year – West Midlands, East Midlands and the North East – all saw significant drops in the number of applications.

GP trainee recruitment 2015 vs 2014

Darker green – 2015                     Paler green – 2014

Yorkshire and the Humberside saw the largest increase in fill rate this year, increasing by 16 percentage points. Fill rate in the West Midlands took the largest hit, falling by 17 percentage points.

GP trainee fill rate 2015 vs 2014

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.

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