A LETTER urging doctors to consider an “exciting” career in general practice has been sent out to more than 20,000 trainees in England by the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Dr Maureen Baker describes the specialty as a “fantastic profession” offering “a great deal of flexibility” whose future is “looking bright.”
The letter follows reports in October 2014 that a large number of GP training posts in England remained unfilled. Health Education England (HEE) confirmed an overall vacancy rate of 12.4 per cent, with that figure reaching 30 per cent in some of the worst affected areas.
The final August 2014 intake was 2,688, or 88 per cent of the total available places. This falls short of HEE’s target of bringing 3,250 trainees into general practice per year by 2016 – a deadline which has already been pushed back from the original date of August 2015.
Dr Baker’s letter highlights NHS England’s report, Five Year Forward View, which calls for a “new deal for primary care” with investment being shifted from acute to primary and community services. The Government has also pledged to invest £1.2 billion in UK GP services.
Because of this, she argues, “the expert generalist skills of GPs have never been more in demand.”
She acknowledged that working in the specialty is not always easy.
“General practice is also one of the most challenging jobs in medicine, as GPs must have the knowledge, expertise and confidence to be able to deal with whatever comes through the consultation room door,” she said.
But added: “A career in general practice offers a great deal of flexibility. It allows you to fit the job around other major commitments, such as having a young family. It also gives you the chance to practise in the region of your choice and to decide whether to be wholly a generalist or to develop skills in a specific area as a GP with a special interest.”
She closes the letter by saying: “Please do consider joining me in this fantastic profession.”
The RCGP confirmed this is the first time a College chair has taken such a step to encourage more people to join the specialty.