More new trainee GPs have entered training this year than ever before, Health Education England (HEE) has reported.
The total, of 3,157, beat the previous record set last year by 138.
But recently published figures from NHS Digital show that the number of GPs currently working in England has fallen sharply over the past year, despite a pledge from health secretary Jeremy Hunt to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020.
NHS Digital data shows that there were 1,193 fewer full-time equivalent GPs working in England in September 2017, compared with the previous September.
HEE chief executive, Ian Cumming, described the unprecedented sign-up of trainee GPs as “great news for the NHS and great news for patients”.
“But despite what has been another record-breaking year we know that more still needs to be done,” he said.
“We will continue to develop initiatives such as our general practice marketing campaign, now in its third year, to help raise awareness of general practice as a career of choice and its unique selling points as a specialty.”
Published at the same time as the HEE figures, a Royal College of GPs (RCGP) report has called for more work to be done to ensure that more medical students choose to become GPs in the future.
Its report found that more than three-quarters of medical students reported hearing negative comments about general practice from clinicians, educational trainers and academics by the time they reached their final year at university.
Destination GP surveyed 3,680 medical students from 30 medical schools across the UK, and found that some medical students considering a career in general practice were being deterred from joining the profession, or abandoning it for other medical specialties.
RCGP chair, Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: “We’ve had promises to expand the GP workforce in England, and we need equivalent pledges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But if the denigration shown in this report continues, it will make it nigh on impossible to fulfil any aspirations to expand the GP workforce.”