Call for 'urgent clarification' over trainee GP places

Credit: PA

Trainee GP places across Wales have been advertised, then removed - but not before hopeful applicants decided they were going to go for the jobs, ITV Wales understands.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) in Wales has called for clarity over the situation.

Dr Rebecca Payne, Chair of the RCGP said: "We are seeking urgent clarification on this situation from both Welsh Government and the Wales Deanery.

"However, given the national shortage of GPs, it is essential that training positions are available across Wales and that it is made as easy as possible for doctors to train in their preferred location."

ITV Wales has spoken to one doctor who moved to Wales to apply for a role only to find that when they went to start their application, the post they wanted had been taken down.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they said: "I was really upset about this. I have been studying for months to prepare myself for the GP entrance exam that I have to sit as part of the application.

"I'm really frustrated by the situation. All I hear in the news and from colleagues is that we are in desperate need for GPs, especially in North Wales. I have taken a lot of time and commitment preparing to start my GP training.

"There is no point in me applying anymore as there are no longer any jobs in the area I have moved to. I feel betrayed and let down by the system which I am only trying to contribute to. I am totally perplexed at how this will solve the GP crisis."

The doctor said that when they first looked at what posts were available, there were 24 across Wales. But just days later, that number had halved to 12.

Dr Linda Dykes, director of Bangor Clinical Fellow scheme, which is a successful doctor-recruitment strategy in Wales, said whatever caused doctors to be "misinformed" about the availability of GP training posts shouldn't have happened.

She said: "Wales is short of doctors, and when good ones want to come to Wales we need to be in a position to accommodate them."

The Wales Deanery didn't deny that posts had been advertised in error, instead saying: “The situation surrounding vacancies to be advertised for round two of GP recruitment 2017 is complex and remains a matter of discussion between the Wales Deanery and Welsh Government. We should be in a definitive position early next week.”

The Welsh Government has been keen to promote Wales as a place for doctors to Train. Work. Live. and recent figures showed their recruitment drive appears to have been working.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We have not removed any GP training places.

"As well as currently advertising those posts which remain unfilled from round 1, we are in discussions with the Wales Deanery about when other posts will be advertised. This is a timing issue and does not affect the overall number of GP training places available."

The British Medical Association in Wales said it was awaiting clarification on exactly what has happened.

Dr Bethan Roberts, Chair of BMA Cymru Wales' Welsh Junior Doctors Committee, said: “We’re concerned to hear that there has been confusion over the number of available GP training places and while we await clarification on exactly what has happened, we hope that this doesn’t have a negative impact on attracting trainees to Wales.

"BMA Cymru Wales continues to call for an increase in the number of posts advertised in Wales, particularly after seeing the improved fill-rates for trainees starting this August. This is only part of the solution to tackling recruitment challenges.”