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Axe poised to fall on GP courses as training cuts bite

By Anna Hodgekiss

Swingeing cuts in funding will force deaneries to axe swathes of GP training course over the coming year.

London deanery's decision last week to axe 29 'innovative training posts' has left 10 per cent of doctors due to start GP training in the capital in August out of a job.

The deanery was forced to make the cuts after the Department of Health slashed its budget for 2006/7. It also underestimated how many people would take posts offered elsewhere.

The students affected have been given a deadline of 31 July to accept a deferred place for February 2007. But experts predicted the cash crisis would only get worse as the financial year moved on.

Professor Pat Lane, director of postgraduate GP education at the South Yorkshire and South Humber deanery, said he feared many deaneries would cancel the February intake of registrars to stave off financial ruin.

He said: 'By doing this, they can save half a year's salary. If deaneries don't know their budgets soon, they won't take the risk of recruiting people they can't afford.'

Dr Andrew Thomson, chair of the GPC's registrars subcommittee, said: 'This is the very thin end of a thick wedge – there will be further upsets

as deanery budgets continue to decrease.'

Dr Thomson added: 'These are the cold, hard facts, re-

gardless of what the Government says – the cuts in deanery funding are coming home to roost.'

Doctors affected by the London cuts told Pulse they were devastated by the decision.

Dr Aamir Ansari, who was due to start on the VTS scheme in Barnet, north London, said: 'I feel cheated and angry, and I'm still trying to get the knife out of my back.

'I find it ironic that the deanery insisted on having innovative training posts because we'd be better trained, but now they don't value them enough to fund them.'

Dr Dinesh Sirisena said: 'I'm moving down from Leicester, I've put a deposit down for a mortgage, and now they tell me there's no job for me. It's a desperate situation.'

Dr Jeremy Gittens, Ealing VTS course organiser, said: 'These cuts smack of short-termism. I wish it was possible to run the NHS on a long-term view.'

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