Applications for 2016 GP training have slumped by 5% on last year spelling disaster for the Government target of delivering 5,000 more GPs by 2020.
Leaked figures - obtained by Pulse - reveal that despite a national advertising campaign aimed at promoting general practice as a career, the proportion of doctors applying for GP speciality training starting in August 2016 has reached a record low.
Last year, the first application round of GP training received 5,112 applications for 3,609 places but this only delivered 2,769 trainees in 2015 despite three application rounds and changes to allow failed applicants to reapply.
In England, Health Education England has the Government-mandated target to recruit 3,250 GP trainees a year by August 2016, a major part of the effort to get 5,000 more GPs by 2020, as promised by the Conservative Party before the general election last year.
It takes three years to train a GP and this latest cohort will be one of the last to be fully trained before 2020.
It is also a double setback as this year Health Education England and the RCGP launched a major publicity drive to encourage graduates to choose general practice training.
The RCGP produced a video saying that there ‘was never a better time to become a GP’ and HEE produced a series of videos showing GPs signing forms for sky-diving and helping patients run marathons and manage their asthma.
GP leaders said the figures showed ‘fundamental issues’ with the Government’s recruitment strategy that neglected the root cause of making general practice an attractive career.