General Practitioners

Health written question – answered on 16th June 2014.

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Photo of Jamie Reed Jamie Reed Shadow Minister (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many training places for general practice were (a) commissioned and (b) filled in each of the last five years.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Department set up Health Education England (HEE) to deliver a better health and healthcare workforce for England. HEE is responsible for ensuring a secure workforce supply for the future balancing need against demand, taking into account factors such as the age profile of the existing workforce, the impact of technology, and new drugs.

The Department has recognised the need to increase the general practitioner (GP) workforce and between September 2010 and September 2013 the number of full-time equivalent GPs has risen by 1,051. Additionally, the Department has included in the HEE mandate a requirement that “HEE will ensure that 50% of trainees completing foundation level training enter GP training programmes by 2016”.

Further work is being undertaken by HEE to improve applications and fill rate in to GP training to support the mandate target of 3,250 appointments into GP training by 2016 in England. This includes a review of the GP recruitment process, developing a pre-GP year to give exposure to prospective GP applicants of the specialty and careers advice for foundation doctors and medical students.

In recognition of the contribution the GP workforce makes in the NHS, HEE will also undertake additional work on GP recruitment and retention, return to practice and reducing attrition rates, all of which will play a part in increasing the GP workforce.

The following table indicates the number of posts commissioned and filled and the fill rate for GP training in England for the last five years. The number of posts has been increased for 2014 to 2,946 to support the Government’s mandate requirement for HEE to increase GP training.

  Posts commissioned Posts filled Percentage filled
2010 2,732 2,800 102.49
2011 2,672 2,658 99.48
2012 2,687 2,669 99.33
2013 2,761 2,738 99.17
2014 3,043 2,630 89.27
Source: HEE data.

Deferment resulting from factors such as maternity leave can cause a higher than 100% fill rate in some years.

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