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Mr Foy informed delegates that the College had originally hoped to recruit 186 trainees in July 2017, “but in the end, we had only 172”. This shortfall is not an issue the College has full control over, he added.
Nevertheless, Mr Foy said the ICGP needs “to be out there a little more” including through social media. The College has established a new website called www.beagp.com that outlines information about general practice as a career. According to this website, “it’s never been a better time to become a GP in Ireland” while prominent headings are “make a real difference”, “enjoy a balanced life”, and “be a generalist and a specialist”.
During his address on the challenges of modern general practice, Mr Foy acknowledged “a high degree of stress and low morale”. He said he had noted “huge negativity among general practitioners and I do think sometimes negativity begets negativity… Now, you have lots of reasons to be negative, but sometimes we need to channel that negativity maybe in a better way”.
He described general practice as “still an attractive career” but acknowledged that there are “lots of issues”, which were outlined in his address. “It must be seen as a viable career choice and that’s where our politicians come in; that’s where the representative bodies come in as well…,” he added.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Mr Foy said he was hopeful the 2018 trainee intake target would be realised. “I think the planning is better this year and I think the engagement is better this year. We will do everything in our power to achieve that target and we need lots of other people to row in behind that as well.”
Asked about concerns that the pressure to increase numbers could affect trainee quality, Mr Foy told MI: “You don’t want to dilute the quality and that’s a risk…I actually think we can maintain the quality, but it is [about] making sure that people see general practice as an attractive career and an interesting career that allows them to develop professionally and yet maintain a good work/life balance.”
The 2016 Programme for Government committed to increasing the GP trainee intake to 259 within five years.