Hundreds of vacant trainee posts show GP targets are ‘undeliverable’ amid junior contracts row

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A failure to recruit enough new GPs is showing the Government’s seven-day practice pledge is “undeliverable”, a healthy body has warned.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has revealed that one in five trainee GP posts in England are currently unfilled, including almost a quarter of the 295 posts available in Yorkshire.

Figures from the GP National Recruitment Office, which have been highlighted by the BMA, show less than 2,500 of the 3,124 trainee posts have been filled.

It comes months after Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020 as part of the Government’s plan to open all surgeries seven days a week.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA GPs committee, has called on ministers to invest further in general practice to cope with increased demand.

He said: “With medical graduates turning their backs on general practice, there is no sign that the Government will be able to fulfil its pledge to recruit 5,000 GPs and open all surgeries seven days a week. Whatever the rhetoric, on the ground these plans are completely undeliverable.”

The comments come as the BMA announced it has pulled out of talks to renegotiate the contracts of junior doctors. It claims the proposals are “unsafe for patients” and “unfair to doctors” due to fears over long working hours and reduced pay.

Health Education England has said GP numbers are increasing, while it is working to “make sure we have a skilled, trained and motivated workforce”.

A Department of Health spokesperson said it was disappointed at the BMA’s decision over junior doctor contracts, stating it is “determined to provide safe NHS care for patients and a fair deal for all NHS staff”.