Health Education England has filled more GP training places than ever before but failed to reach its target for 2016.

The national training body has filled 2,989 GP trainee places for 2016, against a mandated target to recruit 3,250 this year.

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming: ‘We knew it would also take some time for all our initiatives to take affect’

In 2014, HEE was told by the Department of Health to increase the number of GP trainees in England to 3,250 each year to support the health secretary’s promise to have 5,000 new GPs working in England by 2020.

NHS England also committed to increase GP recruitment by 3,250, as part of workforce plans set out in the General Practice Forward View.

Earlier this week HSJ reported that HEE is to receive an additional £20m on top of its existing budget to help support the planned increase in the number of GPs. NHS England pledged £206m to implement workforce measures from the GP Forward View.

New figures from HEE, released today, show it failed to reach its target this year by 261 places.

However the latest figure, of 2,989 filled places, is a significant increase in the number of trainees choosing general practice and an unprecedented fill rate for ST1 GP training places.

Professor Ian Cumming, HEE chief executive, said: “Although it has been a difficult year for doctors in training our overall fill rates across all medical specialities have remained fairly constant and the significant rise in the number of GP trainees is particularly welcome against this background.

“We knew it would also take some time for all of our joint initiatives with the Royal College of GPs around raising the profile and attractiveness of general practice as a career to take affect but the additional GP trainees we have already seen shows that this work is beginning to bear fruit and will continue to focus on GP recruitment as a high priority in HEE.

“We are aware that there is still much to do and we will be continuing with a number of initiatives that we are confident will see the number of GP trainees in this country continue to rise.”

Regional breakdown of GP training places in 2016

RegionAvailable postsRound 1 filledRound 2 filledFill rateFoundation year 2 GPsPrepartion for specialty GPsBroad based training joining ST2 GPsTotal starters
East Midlands 280 236 30 95%   6 3 275
East of England 330 295 18 95%   6   319
Kent, Surrey and Sussex 247 239 18 104%       257
London 465 463 5 101%       468
North East 192 115 36 79%   3   154
North West 483 353 37 81%   7 4 401
South West 264 232 7 91%     1 240
Thames Valley 130 130 0 100%       130
Wessex 149 129 17 98%       146
West Midlands 359 260 41 84%   4 3 308
Yorkshire and the Humber 351 239 36 78%   2   277
Total 3,250 2,691 245 90% 14 28 11 2,989

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