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Tackling the GP recruitment crisis to stop it threatening patient care
The BMA recently insisted that unless the current crisis in GP recruitment is tackled head on patients are not going to receive the care they need. Their call comes in the wake of claims that medical schools in the UK desperately need to recruit many more students who have an interest in making a career with in general practice. To back this up latest figures have shown that vacancies for trainee GP’s have risen by 30%.
This news comes from an article in the British Medical Journal which also stated that only around 1 in 10 students who enter medical school actually want to be GP’s. Even when they have graduated less than 1 in 4 want a career as a general practitioner. The government has said that it wants 50% of medical graduates to choose to be GP’s, but wanting and getting is never easy at the best of times and at the moment becoming a GP seems to be very unappealing when faced with the technological advances being enjoyed in other branches of medicine.
The author of the article is Richard Wakeford, a life fellow of Cambridge University, and he says the first step is for medical schools to provide far more information about becoming a GP and the benefits of entering general practice. He also believes that more members of the Medical Schools Council should come from the general medicine sector in order to get the message out to all the undergraduate medical school it represents.
Harrison Carter is the co-chair of the BMA Medical Students Committee, and he has said that it is vital for all medical students to gain experience in general practice. This is particularly important due to the current move for more patients to be cared for within community settings as opposed to hospitals. He said that it’s very important that students have access to GP placements during their time in medical school as this not gives them additional value to their experiences at medical school but also improve their learning experience. He added that these placements also give students a real insight into caring for an ageing population and the lead role that GP’s play in this area.
This doesn’t equate to what is actually happening out there however as the latest figures from Health Education England shows that a total of only 2688 doctors in 2014 were recruited into general practitioner training, leaving a vacancy rate across the country of around 12%. The government has also revealed that their target is to increase the number of GP trainees, by 2016, to 3250. Richard Vautrey, the deputy chair of the BMA GP’s committee has said that a long term and sustainable investment has to be made in general practice in order to raise the level of recruitment for trainee GP’s.
Through the It’s Your GP Cares campaign the GPC has been lobbying hard to make this happen. Dr Vautrey went onto say that they were now reaching a crisis point where general practice won’t have enough GP’s to either provide the manpower for the volume of appointments needed or the range of services which patients both need and deserve. He also believes that medical schools have to play a role in the addressing of this mounting crisis. Sonia Browne, director of Dream Medical the GP recruitment specialists agrees with his comments that “In recent years there is clear evidence that the exposure medical students have to general practice has been on the decline and it has now come to a point of no return where these problems need to be dealt with immediately”