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Fears over GP training shake-up

Proposals for two postgraduate deaneries to merge in order to save £3.5m have sparked fears of a major reorganisation of GP training.

East Midland Trent deanery will form a single East Midlands unit with Leicestershire, Nor-thamptonshire and Rutland deanery under the plans from the region's strategic health authority.

A project management board appointed to review the deaneries has predicted some jobs are likely to be lost as a result of the change.

The merger of the East Midlands deaneries mirrors the process being undertaken in the West Midlands, which is conducting a wholesale review of its activities (News, 30 November).

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator with responsibility for education and training, said an 'unsettling' trend was emerging for deaneries to become integrated with strategic health authorities. 'I think the NHS has an obsession with reorganisation and it's the deaneries' turn.

'I suspect there is a push right across the country to follow this pattern,' he said.

'It's very unsettling and again a sign education and training is an easy area to make cuts in, but it will have huge long-term implications if we fail to invest in training and education.'

Dr David Taylor, secretary of the Association of Course Organisers and a GP in Birmingham, said the 'endless change' was linked to NHS reorganisation.

He added that cuts in training funding stemmed from Government failures to honour increases in the time registrars spend in general practice.

Dr Harry Yoxall, secretary of Somerset LMC, said it made sense to 'concentrate' expert educationalists. The merged South West deanery came into force a year ago.

He said: 'As medical education administration gets more complicated, it's not something someone can do in half an hour at the end of surgery.'

Under the plans for an East Midlands deanery, an 'institute of multi-professional learning' would be set up.

It would bring in expert advice on a project basis rather than have permanently employed advisers or development managers.

Plans for consultation on any redundancies would be agreed in the first quarter of 2008.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said in a recent bulletin to LMCs there was increasing evidence of cuts to training budgets.

He wrote: 'This is another area where the Government seems to have lost the plot and thinks it can rely on recruits from Eastern Europe to bail it out of GP shortages.'

• Pulse GP careers seminar – details on page 45

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