Failure to recruit more GPs raises safety fears – don’t say you weren’t warned.

Kate Gibbons in the Times 28th March reports: Failure to recruit more GPs raises safety fears and provides the GP slant on the reality of the previous posting. Stress levels in junior  doctors, and fear in all staff is leading to implosion. (Collapse, fear and disorder. A post-coded anarchy of lowering medical quality and standards is coming… ) NHSreality has warned for 3 years…. Denial is the politicians problem. Disengagement is a problem for Drs and politicians.

Fewer than half the new GPs that the government promised to recruit will have joined the profession by 2020.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, announced plans to train and retain an extra 5,000 GPs in England by the end of the decade at the Conservative party conference in 2014.

However, just over 2,000 are expected to join and the number of unfilled GP posts continues to rise. Senior doctors have warned that patients’ lives are at risk as struggling emergency departments are forced to pick up GPs’ workload and the health service has been forced to turn to the private sector for expensive agency staff as emergency services, GPs and out-of-hours NHS services fail to cope.

Analysis of the figures, carried out by Pulse magazine, shows that the GP workforce will increase by 2,100 at best, despite a £10 million recruitment scheme that includes “golden hellos” of £20,000 and a high-profile government publicity campaign.

New figures from the Royal College of General Practitioners show that in 16 areas of the country, including large parts of Kent, London, Dorset and Gloucester, more than 25 per cent of GP posts are empty. Among the worst hit areas are Bexley in southeast London, Redbridge in northeast London and Swale in Kent, which all have about half the number of doctors needed to cover their population.

The British Medical Association called the health secretary’s 2014 pledge wholly unrealistic. It estimates that at the current training rate 13,000 GPs will enter the system by 2020. However, 3,500 GPs have applied for certificates to work abroad and 7,200 are likely to have retired.

Krishna Kasaraneni, chairman of the BMA GP education, training and workforce subcommittee, said that the data analysis revealed how short they were likely to be. He added: “We actually need a lot more GPs than this arbitrarily chosen figure [of 5,000] to maintain a basic level of service to patients. With 600 GP trainee posts left unfilled last year and large sections of the workforce telling the BMA they intend to retire, there is little chance the government will get anywhere near this target.”

Figures from the General Medical Council, the regulator, show that 700 GPs in England are applying to work abroad each year and the NHS Business Services Authority, which administers NHS pensions, said that about 1,400 GPs retired in 2014. The 2020 predictions do not take into account any increase in GPs taking early retirement. A BMA survey last year found that one in three GPs hoped to give up work in the next five years.

Application numbers will also be affected by the new junior doctor contracts, according to the BMA.

The government recently started to emphasise that the target was for 5,000 extra “doctors in general practice” rather than fully-qualified GPs, which means trainees will be counted. A Department of Health spokesman said that NHS training bodies were working with the BMA and royal college to boost recruitment. He added: “We have been clear that our target includes [trainees].”

Image result for gp recruitment cartoon

And just to confuse you, and make you question the manpower planning completely the Abi Rimmer in BMA news reports: Sugical Training Posts could be reduced to avoid oversupply. (BMJ careers 13th Feb 2016) – the opposite of 6 years ago when, in The Telegraph 1st May 2010 Rebecca Smith warned: Cuts being made to junior doctors’ posts experts warn – Up to one in three jobs for trainee surgeons will be cut over the next three years in some areas meaning doctors will be ‘spread too thinly’, it has been warned.

Overcapacity is the best way to control supply within a profession. 10% discard rate allows for emigration and career changes and drop outs..

This entry was posted in A Personal View, 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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