Retention just as important as recruitment, says BMA in response to GP training figures

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 23 November 2022
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Responding to Health Education England (HEE)1 figures showing that more than 4,000 doctors have joined specialty GP training in 2022, Dr David Smith, BMA GP trainees committee chair, said:

“It is positive to see that, despite the current and well-documented workforce and demand pressures in general practice, doctors still want to train to be GPs. Practices provide such a valuable and important service to patients, so in addition to recruiting new doctors, we also need to do everything possible to hold on to the GPs we currently have.

“Since 2015 we have lost the equivalent of more than 1,800 full-time fully-qualified GPs in England, and the majority of these new recruits will take at least another three years to qualify. There is no point having record numbers coming in the front door if huge numbers are still leaving through the back.

“We need to make the job safe and rewarding again.

“Trainee GPs need proper support and improved pay and conditions during their training. GP trainees are not worth more than a quarter less than they were in 2008, but this is how much they, alongside other junior doctors in England, have seen their pay fall in real terms since then2 and this needs addressing.

“Trainees also need space and time for them to learn, rather than simply using them to plug workforce gaps. We already know that a significant proportion of trainee GPs are planning to work less than full time in general practice after training, and it’s likely that poor training experiences will further influence their career decisions. Once qualified, there must be renewed efforts to retain their expertise and stop the haemorrhaging of GPs from the workforce so that they can continue looking after patients, running practices and eventually training the next generation of family doctors.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Please contact HEE for more information.
  2. The BMA’s GP trainees committee supports the BMA junior doctors committee in its calls for full pay restoration back to 2008/2009 levels. A ballot for industrial action by junior doctors in England, including GP trainees, will open on Monday 9 January 2023.