The number of GP specialty training places on offer across the UK in the first round of recruitment for 2018 has shrunk compared to the number offered this year, official figures suggest.
The General Practice National Recruitment Office (GPNRO) is advertising 63 fewer places for GP ST1 training in 2018 compared to the same time this year, analysis of places on offer shows.
There appear to be 70 fewer spots in England and 30 fewer in Scotland, according to figures on the GPNRO website, which prospective trainees must use to apply for posts.
This contrasts to Wales and Northern Ireland, which are respectively offering 25 and 12 more places than they did in 2017.
Health Education England (HEE) warned that the numbers should be treated as ‘indicative’ and could be subject to change. It added that the total number of places on offer had ‘not dropped’.
But according to the GPNRO site, there are 3,187 GP training places available in England in round one for 2018, alongside 320 in Scotland, 136 in Wales and 97 in Northern Ireland – 3,740 overall.
This compares to 2017, when there were 3,257 in England, 350 in Scotland, 111 in Wales and 85 in Northern Ireland – amounting to 3,803 overall.
The numbers suggest that most regions in England are offering a similar number of places as they did in 2017.
But there appear to be large drops in the West Midlands where places are down by 34, and London where 12 fewer places are listed.
The places on offer are for training posts commencing next August, and mark the opening of the first round of recruitment for 2018 training. Applicants have until the end of this month to apply, with interviews due in January.
The figures come as Health Education England (HEE) has yet to release the final figures on GP recruitment uptake for 2017. Deadlines for 2017 applications have passed and the cohort who applied in round two are due to commence their training in February.
But interim figures from the summer suggest recruitment may have suffered this year across the UK, with more places vacant following the first round of 2017 recruitment than in 2016. In Scotland, a significant number of places remained vacant after the two 2017 recruitment rounds, but the total number of GP trainees recruited was the highest since 2010.
On the UK figures, an HEE spokeswoman said: ‘These are indicative numbers and subject to change. We publish this information to help trainees see where the vacancies are, the total number of places on offer has not dropped.
‘This is an ongoing recruitment process and we will have a full picture on fill rate once this process is complete.’
This post was originally written by David Millett on the 3 November 2017 for GP Online.com