Intended for healthcare professionals


GMC sees 15% fall in applications for GP training

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 09 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6139
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. 1The BMJ

The number of applications to enter general practice training in the United Kingdom fell by 15% this year, a new report by the General Medical Council has disclosed.

The State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK 20141 said that the number of applications dropped from 6031 in 2013 to 5100 in 2014, and it reported “considerable variation in the supply of trained GPs across different parts of the UK.” The GMC added that the burnout being felt by the current GP workforce may have contributed to the fall in applications to join general practice.

In July Health Education England took the unprecedented step of opening general practice recruitment for a third round because of a low fill rate for GP training places in some areas of England.2 And last week the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced plans to commission an independent review to determine how many additional GPs were required and in which areas of the country,3 after acknowledging the current workforce pressures in primary care.

Furthermore, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned that the situation is worsening because of the growing number of UK trained doctors considering early retirement or working overseas.4 The GMC said that feedback to its regional liaison teams showed that GPs across the UK felt “under considerable pressure” from the combination of funding squeezes, an ageing population, and an increasing number of patients with long term conditions.

The report said that the fall in doctors applying to enter GP training “may be more complex than simply rising demand,” but it added that “the perception of the doctors involved is not in dispute and there must be a danger that negative perceptions of general practice affect the number of doctors wishing to enter GP training.”

It also highlighted the regional variation in take-up of training places: this was as low as 62% in the East Midlands, compared with 98% in Northern Ireland, 89% in Scotland, and 90% in Wales. “There were differences between rural and urban areas, but there were common themes with concerns about being overloaded and some GPs being at risk of burning out,” the report said.

The GMC said that the workload pressure in England could be eased in the short term by the government’s £3.8bn (€4.8bn; $6.1bn) Integration Transformation Fund, which is earmarked largely for primary care projects to prevent hospital admissions in 2015-16. It also highlighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to strengthen the workforce after the Everyone Matters: 2020 Workforce Vision report,5 describing it as a positive step.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said, “[The report] provides important evidence in a profession where primary care has recruitment issues, and when specific parts of the UK are finding it harder to recruit than others.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6139


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