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Fire the Medical Schools Council if you want more GPs

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 28 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6245
  1. Richard Wakeford, life fellow, Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge

Specialists are massively over-represented in medical schools’ representative body, and it shows, writes Richard Wakeford

Labour has announced plans to recruit 8000 more GPs if elected—but without saying how. And the prime minister has promised to provide seven day access to a GP by 2020 if the Conservatives get in—also without saying how. But the NHS needs more GPs immediately.1

We need at least half of UK medical graduates to become GPs, said a report on student numbers by the Health and Education National Strategic Exchange last year,2 as did the recent GP Taskforce study commissioned by the government.3 Recruiting foreign doctors may help, but international medical graduate trainees are not necessarily equivalent to domestic ones.4 5

UK medical schools are not recruiting anything like enough students with this career inclination: from the sparse data available, a report from King’s College London showed that only 11% of new medical students planned a career in general practice,6 and research from Aberdeen backed this up with a figure of 13%.7 Even when they graduate—after five or more years to reflect on career opportunities—less than a quarter of doctors entering the foundation …

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