31% GP trainee pay cut could deepen recruitment crisis

BMA leaders have warned that a significant cut in GP trainee pay could 'exacerbate existing workforce shortages' and make general practice an impossible career option for some trainees.

GP trainees: facing 31% pay cut (Photo: JH Lancy)
GP trainees: facing 31% pay cut (Photo: JH Lancy)

In evidence submitted to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) on doctors' contracts, the BMA warned that removing the GP training supplement would slash GP trainee pay by a third (31%).

The supplement was introduced to ensure that GP trainees received a level of pay equitable to that of other speciality trainees, but the BMA's evidence highlighted that the DDRB had committed to 'review the level of the supplement payable to GP registrars in light of both further progress in reducing the hours of doctors in hospital training, and further evidence on the recruitment of GP registrars'.

The considerable reduction in salary that would come with the supplement's removal would be a ‘huge disincentive’ for medical trainees to opt for a career in general practice at a time when workforce is a major problem for the profession, it warned.

GP careers impossible

It added that the potential cuts could make a GP career impossible for prospective trainees with financial or family commitments that a lower salary could not sustain.

The government has previously mandated that Health Education England (HEE) must ensure 50% of all medical trainees enter general practice posts by 2016, equivalent to 3,250 posts.

The BMA described the target as ‘ambitious in the current climate’.

Last year, despite an all-out recruitment drive, just 2,688 GP trainees were recruited, leaving almost 400 available posts unfilled.

GP trainees disadvantaged

In the evidence, published on Friday, the BMA said: ‘The supplement was introduced to ensure that GP trainees were not disadvantaged in terms of their pay in comparison to other specialty doctor trainees and is still needed now.

‘It ensures that general practice remains an equitable training option and attractive career for medical graduates.

‘Removing the GP training supplement would result in a significant pay differential between GP and hospital specialty trainees. This is likely to result in medical graduates continuing to predominantly opt for hospital specialty training posts, leaving general practice with the substantial recruitment and retention problems it is currently facing.’

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