Almost half of 400 GPs who qualified this summer cannot find fixed jobs, according to a survey published in GP newspaper.
The England-wide survey of GPs found just over half (54%) had a job by the end of last month, but the problem could become worse because deaneries have been told to take on 400 extra trainees next year – a 13% rise.
This means that thousands of newly qualified GPs are working part-time in spite of seeking full-time permanent positions.
The 46% of new doctors without a full-time job were identified in a Committee of General Practice Educators (COGPED) survey.
Dr Simon Plint, COGPED vice chairman, admitted to GP that increasing training numbers felt “counter-intuitive”.
‘We know that newly qualified GPs are very concerned about under-employment,” he said. “COGPED is closely following the employment experience of the latest cohort of doctors exiting GP training programmes,”
Dr Plint, however, advised caution in drawing conclusions because in 2004, when COGPED last surveyed GPs, only four newly qualified GPs in 10 had a job at this point in the year.
Professor David Sowden, joint chairman of the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) Programme Board, said last month that “expanding GP training places may well be challenging in those parts of the country where GP registrars currently face difficulties finding their first permanent post”.
The newspaper quoted Dr Adrian Haslam, a recently qualified Bolton GP working as a locum, who said few of his peers had permanent jobs.
“There is an excess of young trained GPs,” said Dr Haslam. “With more coming through, I do not know how the job market will absorb them.”
Dr Katie MacLaren, chairman of the BMA's trainee subcommittee, said: “The BMA is concerned that many newly qualified GPs are having difficulty finding permanent full time positions. A significant number are working as locums on a short term basis and finding they are only managing to secure a few days work a week.
“These doctors have spent at least nine years training to become a GP at a cost of over £200,000 to the taxpayer. It is therefore important that the profession, government and local PCTs work together to find a solution to this problem so that patients receive the full benefits of our highly trained GP workforce.”