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12.05.17

Improving GP recruitment rates now ‘matter of urgency’, says RCGP

The current rate of GP recruitment and retention must be significantly improved “as a matter of urgency”, the Royal College of GPs (RCPG) has today stated.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the organisation’s chair, issued the message in light of the upcoming general election, which offers an opportunity to reach targets set out in the GP Forward View.

In March, NHS Digital figures showed that despite aims to recruit 5,000 additional GPs by 2021, numbers had actually fallen in the last quarter of 2016.

And last month, the RCGP called for urgent action to stop the mass “haemorrhaging” of doctors numbers that was putting patient safety at risk.

“We know that practices across the country are finding it really difficult to recruit GPs to fill vacant posts, and the degree to which this problem has increased over the last six years is staggering,” Prof Stokes-Lampard said.

“In the most severe cases, not being able to recruit has forced practices to close, and this can be a devastating experience for the patients and staff affected, and the wider NHS.”

The RCGP chair argued that general practice should be an easy career to recruit into due to it being intellectually challenging, emotionally rewarding and incredibly varied.

“But at present UK general practice does not have sufficient resources to deliver the care and services necessary to meet our patients’ changing needs – meaning that GPs and our teams are working under intense pressures, which are simply unsustainable,” Stokes-Lampard explained.

“Workload in general practice is escalating – it has increased 16% over the last seven years according to the latest research – yet investment in our service has steadily declined over the last decade and the number of GPs has not risen in step with patient demand. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The RCGP added that though progress was being made in recruiting more junior doctors into general practice, disappointing recent figures now mean that the sector needs to see a huge push in efforts to retain trained, experienced GPs in the workforce – and step up recruitment efforts.

Today’s message, issued ahead of the general election in June, comes just a few days after the RCGP launched its ‘Six Steps for Safer General Practice’ manifesto for the next government, which urges Whitehall to deliver the GP Forward View in full, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020.

“We also want to ensure that the status of EU GPs working in the NHS is secure as part of Brexit negotiations,” Stokes-Lampard concluded.

Top Image: Anthony Devlin

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