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Funding cuts turn GP education into a disaster zone

By Anna Hodgekiss

GP education and continuing professional development is becoming a disaster zone because of funding cuts designed to plug the NHS's spiralling debt.

Pulse has uncovered a catalogue of cuts to training, ranging from clinical tutors and course co-ordinators being laid off to PCTs placing a stranglehold on training time.

The cutbacks are forcing GPs in some areas to pay for training themselves and even set up charities to ensure courses are available.

The news comes just weeks after the Chief Medical Officer's report 'Good Doctors, Safer Patients' called for a tough new recertification regime which will put a greater onus on GPs proving their knowledge and competence.

In Devon, three lay GP educationalists who co-ordinated CPD across the county have been made redundant.

Dr Peter Jolliffe, chief executive of Devon LMC, said it was now planning to set up a not-for-profit organisation, funded by contributions from GPs, which would buy in training courses.

He said: 'The plan was that someone else would pay after the deanery money ran out ­ the SHA was deemed logical ­ but it refused on cost grounds.'

Dr Tony Grewal, vice-chair of Hillingdon LMC in north-west London, said CPD in his area was non-existent.

'CPD in London is poor and in Hillingdon it's a disaster. The little that the London deanery used to provide has been withdrawn, and you now rely on the GP newspapers or what other people tell you.'

In Merseyside, GP clinical tutors have been laid off, a move Dr Nev Bradley, chair of Wirral LMC, said had left 'no effective advice on retraining for GPs with performance training requirements'.

He added: 'Now only purely local clinical meetings are readily available, where the agendas seem carefully controlled to plug pre-determined PCT initiatives.'

In Leeds, the training and CPD scheme TARGET is under threat, with PCTs threatening to take control of the training agenda and halve the number of annual events.

Dr Terry John, chair of the GPC education subcommittee, said: 'The Department of Health has been swinging the axe on GP education because it knows that won't make the front page of the Daily Mail.'

Where the axe is falling on CPD

Devon ­ lay GP educationalists laid off; GPs forced to pay for courses after SHA refuses investment

MERSEYSIDE ­ clinical tutors laid off; drug company-sponsored meetings considered a 'perk'

London ­ Majority of courses gone

Hillingdon ­ Nothing available; a 'disaster', says LMC

Leeds ­ Axe hovers over 'TARGET' scheme as PCTs threaten to halve number of training events

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