Reforms could slash budgets for GP training

GPs fear centralised education budgets for health professionals could cut funding for GP specialist training and destabilise training practices.

Dr Kasaraneni: LETBs are being developed without sufficient GP involvement (Photograph: BMA)
Dr Kasaraneni: LETBs are being developed without sufficient GP involvement (Photograph: BMA)

From 1 April 2013, around 16 local education and training boards (LETBs) across England will plan and fund GP training, allocate budgets to deaneries and hold a budget for practice staff CPD.

But GPs fear that because LETBs will have one budget for all healthcare professionals' education, funds previously earmarked for GP training could be diverted elsewhere.

GPC education, training and workforce subcommittee member and Manchester LMC honorary secretary Dr John Hughes said this had already happened when educational funding was combined by his local PCT.

'GP education funding was taken over by the PCT, became primary care educational funding and disappeared into nurse education,' Dr Hughes said.

He added: 'A number of practices rely on the income stream from trainees. Part of their workforce would be a trainee and they might find they have to employ someone else at additional cost if they lose their trainees.'

To be authorised by Health Education England (HEE), LETBs must ensure GPs are represented on boards. But GPC trainee subcommittee chairman Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: 'We are concerned that shadow LETBs are being developed without sufficient involvement and representation from GPs.

'Enhancing GP training and expansion of GP trainee numbers will be more difficult if this continues. Any suggestion of redistributing funds away from GP training will be a disaster.'

However, Bristol-based Severn Deanery GP education director Professor Bill Irish said LETBs would not cut GP training funds. 'The RCGP specifies a minimum 18 months' training in general practice; there isn't any way this could be reduced.'

An HEE spokeswoman said: 'LETBs will help ensure the right numbers of staff with the right skills are available at the right time across all sectors.'

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