GP trainee placements cut as other specialties fail to recruit

GP trainees are spending less time in general practice because of low recruitment levels in secondary care specialties, experts have warned.

Dr Molyneux (Photograph: BMA)

Junior doctors’ committee chairman Dr Ben Molyneux said staff shortages in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS) Deanery had led to GP trainees doing two psychiatry placements at the expense of their GP training.

‘We have already seen evidence that financial pressures are taking their toll on medical training,' he said. 'In the south of England some trainees have been forced to complete two placements in psychiatry because the trust is short staffed.

'Junior doctors should not be denied a rounded training programme which exposes them to a range of specialties.’

GPC trainee subcommittee chairman Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said GP trainees who were initially offered two four-month GP placements in ST1 and ST2 had one of these placements changed to psychiatry, reducing the amount of time they spent in general practice.

Dr Kasaraneni argued that any changes to GP trainee placements should be beneficial to the trainee and not dictated by local recruitment issues.

Repeating a psychiatry placement was not necessary beneficial to a GP trainee’s overall education, he said. ‘As a generalist you want to get as much experience as possible.’

In a statement, KSS said: ‘In a number of deaneries, GP trainees undertake six-month hospital placements. KSS Deanery provides four-month placements in order to provide additional flexibility for GP registrars to experience a variety of specialities to prepare them for their role as GPs.

‘The care of patients with mental health problems is recognised as one of the major areas of responsibility for General Practice which is reflected in our curriculum. A number of our GP registrars will undertake two four-month placements in a specialty, and psychiatry is just one of these.

‘We consider it particularly important that our GPs of the future are skilled at managing these issues.

'Any GP speciality training programme rotation will be subject to change, as has always been the case for GP training, and we would always expect our local GP programme directors to negotiate and agree any changes with individual GP Registrar at the locality.

'All our training programmes provide experience that is appropriate and completely compatible with the GMC requirements for the award of a a certificate of completion of training (CCT).’

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