DoH backtracks on GP training place pledge

The DoH has backtracked on its promise that every doctor in training should have experience of general practice.

Paul Loveland, head of education, training and development at the DoH, has told all deans and directors of postgraduate GP education that experience in primary care can no longer be regarded as ‘a mission-critical aim’ for doctors in training.

They should scale back their plans for 80 per cent of foundation-year-two (FY2) trainees to do a placement in primary care to 55 per cent — ‘broadly the proportion of the medical workforce that is required to work in primary care’, Mr Loveland said.

In March 2005, deaneries were instructed to plan for 80 per cent of FY2 trainees to do a general practice rotation in 2007/8.
 
But GP educators have now been told ‘there is no money in the kitty’ to pay for this.

Dr Arthur Hibble, chairman of the committee of general practice education directors, said: ‘This is yet another disappointment. The letter confirms what had been rumoured for a while.’

Two years ago then health minister John Hutton said that the ambition of ‘Modernising Medical Careers’ was ‘for every doctor going into the postgraduate stage of training to have experience of general practice’.
 
He pledged ‘we will put resources that are needed into the training budget to make sure we give people that opportunity’.
 
The BMA said it would hold him to account if promised resources did not materialise for general practice placements for all doctors during their second foundation year.
 
Dr Andrew Thomson, chairman of the BMA’s registrars sub-committee, said the GPC had put its concerns to the DoH.

‘The ability to experience a broad range of topics is important at a time when the White Paper is calling for a shift of work to primary care,’ he said.

Mr Loveland told deans and postgraduate GP directors planning to expand their placements to 80 per cent that they had made a mistake.

‘Although the announcement was interpreted as a firm commitment to the 80 per cent target in 2007/8, the actual terms are far more flexible,’ he said.
 
But he said that the 55 per cent target is ‘a clear ministerial commitment’.
 
Dr Paul Sacklin, a Cambridge course organiser, said ‘the tragedy is that people who don’t want to do general practice now won’t do a placement’.
 
prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

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