GP leaders have previously expressed concerns that Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs), which will be in charge of training budgets from April 2013, will cut GP training funding and not fully represent training needs.
However the South West (South) LETB, covering Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, has recently announced plans to increase GP training funding and registrar numbers.
Devon LMC wrote in its October newsletter: ‘The training budget for GP registrars sits with the LETB which has an overall allocation of over £400m per year.
‘We are also very pleased that the LETB has agreed to underwrite the allocation of an extra £3.5m to train more registrars, thereby increasing numbers from 88 per year to 106.’
Devon LMC vice chairman Dr Andrew Sant said the move was in part due to strong GP representation on the LETB board.
‘The LETB has three GP LMC chairs sitting on the board plus a postgraduate dean for general practice. In the South West LETB we think GPs are well represented.’
Dr Sant said that an increase in funding and registrars could mean an expansion of current training practices and a possible increase in the number of GP trainers and training practices locally. ‘Presumably that’s where the £3.5m is going,’ he said.
However despite the increase in GP registrar places, Dr Sant said the LETB still had some way to go to address workforce issues in Devon. ‘You could be a little cynical and say "Is 106 registrars enough for three counties?"’, he said.
Dr Sant said it was important for LMCs to approach LETBs as early on in their development as possible, to ensure GPs were properly represented. ‘Get in early, that’s what we found.’
Despite this, Dr Sant said GPs were still a minority on the LETB board. ‘There is a concern that LETBs are provider-dominated. We have a dozen secondary care chief executives on the board so even though we have twice as many GPs as required they are still in a minority,’ he said.