GPs in new warning on training shortages

Family doctors have issued a warning about future shortages of GPs amid evidence of huge shortfalls in recruitment for training places across Yorkshire and the North.

Figures from Health Education England reveal more than 450 places for trainees remain across the UK, leaving one in eight unfilled for posts from August.

In Yorkshire, only 77 per cent of places are filled, falling to 62 per cent in the East Midlands and 71 per cent in the North East. In contrast all places in London and the Severn and Oxford training regions are filled.

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The shortfall in the East Midlands came even after applicants who initially did not make the grade were assessed again, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

Leeds GP Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GP committee, said: “These figures are deeply concerning and represent a serious threat to the delivery of effective GP services to patients.

“They show that we are experiencing serious shortfalls in the number of doctors choosing to train to become GPs, which will ultimately mean fewer GPs entering the workforce across large parts of the UK, most worryingly in already under-doctored areas such as the North and the Midlands.”

He said many GP practices were already suffering the strain of rising patient demands and falling resources.

“Patients are beginning to see the result of this pressure in a decline in the number of available appointments and the decaying state of GP practice buildings,” he said.

“This worrying shortage of GPs will only exacerbate this crisis and could leave us in a situation where there are simply not enough GPs to cope with the number of patients coming through the door.

“The imbalance in filled posts between the North and South of England could also mean that we are seeing the opening up of a division in the standard of care patients get in different parts of the country.”

Health Education England said the number of training places for GPs had been increased. Work was underway to increase the number of applications and the fill rate to provide a total of 3,250 GP training places.

“This work includes a review of the GP recruitment process, development of a pre-GP year for prospective applicants and careers advice for foundation doctors and medical students,” said a spokesman.