MORE people are applying to become GPs and fewer specialist medical training posts are going unfilled, the latest figures show.

Just 89 of the 1131 medical training posts in Scotland advertised in 2019 were not taken up, according to the NHS Education for Scotland data.

Although the number of available posts has fallen each year since 2016, the percentage filled and the number of trainees are at a five-year high.

There were 37 medical specialties in which every place was taken, up from the 29 last year.

No vacancies were left in either clinical radiology or medical oncology – both highly skilled fields of practice.

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It is hoped that this increase will help patients get treated more quickly.

Meanwhile, the figures show that the number of people applying to specialise in general practice has increased by more than 20%, with 325 posts filled from the 340 advertised, marking an improvement on last year’s results.

Commenting on the newest picture of the country’s health workforce, Health and Sport Secretary Jeane Freeman welcomed the news.

In a statement, she said: “I am delighted that Scotland’s frontline healthcare will see the highest number of trainee GPs in post since 2015.

“This continues to reflect Scotland’s reputation as a country with a first-class medical education system with flexible training opportunities for our junior doctors.

“It is particularly encouraging to see more GP trainee posts filled in previously hard to fill locations thanks to our GP Specialty Training Bursary.

“We recognise that there are still ongoing challenges when it comes to recruiting to certain medical specialties and geographical areas, and we are continuing to address these issues.

“That is why we are to increase the number of undergraduate places by 22% by 2020/21 and also increase the number of Foundation places across 2021 and 2022.”

Professor Rowan Parks, medical director of NHS Education for Scotland, also said: “This is a great tribute to the hard work of consultants and general practitioners across the whole of Scotland, who continue to ensure that doctors training here have a great experience and the best possible training.

“We welcome the continued improvement in fill rates for training posts across Scotland this year.”

Parks added: “There are many challenges, but everyone involved is working hard to ensure the most attractive and highest-quality training environment for Scotland’s junior doctors.”