As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are always prepared to consider anything that will help to sustain the viability of the entire workforce. Offering appropriate career development, for instance, is important to ensuring that we retain doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. We do not just want to train them; we want to keep them as well.
Last year Health Education England recruited the largest ever number of GP trainees—some 3,540—but the system is under significant strain, and more trainees will be required to meet our target of 6,000 general practitioners. The five medical schools that are currently coming onstream will be to central to that objective. However, training new staff is only one piece of the jigsaw. As I have said, retention is just as important. The GP contract recognises that, and sets out an ambitious programme of initiatives which, by 2023-24, will support existing doctors. As well as introducing those workforce measures, we intend over the next 12 months to reduce the unnecessary burden of bureaucracy that often restricts GPs.
Our review has been agreed as part of this year’s contract, and will begin with a ministerial round table that will seek input from our partners across Government and general practice. Our aim is to free up valuable time for doctors and primary care professionals, while also ensuring that Government agencies, departments and patients have the necessary access to information. By recruiting and retaining more doctors in primary care, covering a wider range of specialisms, we will reduce the burden of bureaucracy placed on them and create additional capacity over the next five years. However, this is also about delivering care in the most appropriate setting as we strengthen general practice, and at the heart of each and every one of those settings is the patient. That can only work if we listen to the concerns and views of all involved in general practice, both staff and patients.
I commend my hon. Friend’s tenacity. He has lobbied both the Secretary of State and me to ensure that we know about the challenges at the Pilsley surgery, and that we listen and then continue a conversation that involves me but also, most importantly, the Secretary of State when he and my hon. Friend meet Staffa Health shortly. We will act on what we are hearing.
Question put and agreed to.