RCGP leaders have launched a petition demanding guarantees that a new junior doctor contract - set to be imposed after a breakdown in talks - will not undermine the pay and conditions of GP trainees.
Any cuts to trainee pay would 'deter talented graduates from training as GPs, making it impossible for the government to achieve its target of recruiting 5,000 extra GPs by 2020', the RCGP warned.
RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker has written to the health secretary demanding clarification on how junior doctor contract reforms could affect GP trainees' basic pay, recruitment and retention payments, and how funding will work for doctors transferring from other specialties.
GP recruitment crisis
Mr Hunt has sought to reassure the college that the government will not undermine GP recruitment, but Dr Baker warned that a 'lack of clarity and transparency about his plans' has had a 'chilling effect' on the number of young doctors choosing the profession.
In a letter published alongside the petition, Dr Baker said: 'GP trainees are vital to the future of general practice and the NHS as a whole and we must do everything possible to support and value them. Yet there is growing confusion and alarm about their situation.
'Far from encouraging more people into the profession, there is a real danger that the result of imposing the contract will be to drive a coach and horses through our joint recruitment efforts, making the government’s target of 5,000 more GPs by 2020 impossible to achieve.
'The government now needs to move quickly to plug the information vacuum by sending out a clear message that no GP trainee will be worse off under the new arrangements than under the GP trainee supplement.'
The RCGP has demanded clarification on:
What the new basic level of pay will be for a GP trainee.
The level of the recruitment and retention premium and whether this will be equivalent to the current GP trainee supplement.
Whether the premium will cover all GP trainees, regardless of location.
Whether the premium will remain in place for all future GP trainees.
Whether those in other specialities who choose to retrain in general practice will continue to benefit from pay protection, so that they are not penalised financially as a result of their decision.
Photo: Pete Hill