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CAMHS won't see you now

GPs feel pushed to give antibiotics

Recruitment figures are on the up despite consultants putting students off GP life ­ Cato Pedder reports

Health minister John Hutton has moved to reassure GPs over funding for training, declaring primary care will be the focus of the NHS over the next four years.

Responding to GP questions at a BMA recruitment conference last week, Mr Hutton said he would not hesitate to step in if GP registrar expansion plans came under threat.

The move follows GP fears that the £50 million cut to the training budget would result in GP registrar places being slashed.

The assurances came as new figures revealed the Government recruited an extra 134 whole-time equivalent NHS Plan GPs in the second quarter of this year, but only 23 of these were WTE unrestricted principals and equivalents.

But the GPC said the increase was not enough to sustain the demands of the new contract.

Mr Hutton argued there were more GPs than ever before and that currently 80 per cent more people were training to be GPs than six years ago. He added: 'It is definitely not part of our agenda to cut back on the number of GP registrars.'

He insisted that the foundation programme under 'Modernising Medical Careers' would also not suffer, and the Government intended to ensure clinical placements for 7,000-8,000 doctors to have experience of primary care.

Department of Health figures showed an apparent reverse in the trend of GPs opting for part-time posts, as headcounts of GPs rose by 88 between March and June, compared with 134 WTEs.

A department spokeswoman said the figures showed more part-time GPs were taking up full-time posts with an extra 870 NHS Plan whole-time equivalent GPs recruited in the past year, and 204 WTE unrestricted principals and equivalents.

But GPC deputy-chair Dr Laurence Buckman cast doubt on the figures. GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden added that the figures were 'too small to mean anything' and that 'headcounts mean nothing'.

GPs also agreed that recruitment had not improved. West Pennine LMC secretary Dr Kailash Chand said that in Oldham, where one in six posts were vacant last year, 'the PCT advertised three vacancies and didn't even have one applicant'.

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