The BMJ Today: We may need more GPs, but where will they come from?

abi_rimmerIntegrating health and social care is Labour’s main objective for the NHS, Gareth Iacobbuci reports in The BMJ today.

Labour has also reiterated its plan to train and hire more doctors, nurses, care workers, and midwives, paid for by £2.5bn raised through cracking down on tax avoidance, the “mansion tax,” and a levy on tobacco firms.

Among the additional doctors that Labour aims to hire are 8000 GPs. This would allow Labour to introduce new guarantees for patients to get an appointment with a GP within 48 hours. GPs will also be expected to offer safety checks for the elderly, to identify risks to their health such as isolation and cold homes.

It’s not clear, however, where these 8000 additional GPs are expected to come from. In 2014, around 12% of GP training posts in England were unfilled, despite the launch of an unprecedented third round of recruitment to improve fill rates.

The Royal College of General Practitioners recently launched its first ever national recruitment video to encourage medical students to become GPs, and NHS England has pledged £10m to increase the GP workforce. But it’s still not certain that these efforts will be enough to create the increase in GP numbers that Labour is promising.

Elsewhere in The BMJ, Richard Hurley reveals the fantastic news that The BMJ’s readers have donated £47 086 to Médecins Sans Frontières since December. The money will contribute towards the charity’s continuing work in west Africa.

 Abi Rimmer is BMJ Careers news reporter.