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A faulty production line

GP pressures must ease or trainees will go abroad, warns new junior doctor leader

Pressures on GP partners must ease or rattled trainees will leave the country to find opportunities overseas, the new junior doctor leader has warned.

GP trainee Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya became a national hero as off-duty first responder amid Wednesday's London terror attack, where he put on the line his own personal safety to care for injured patients on the scene.

But Dr Wijesuriya is not without fear, admitting in an exclusive interview with Pulse - which took place before the incident - that the lack of GP workforce is of major personal concern to him.

Dr Wijesuriya, who was elected chair in February following a period of interim leadership and an aborted round of further strike action in the junior doctor contract dispute, said general practice was 'crying out' for more GPs.

He added: 'It is terrifying. As a young trainee speaking personally, there is a huge amount of opportunity I’m excited about.

'But it’s scary there are fewer of us coming through, because we need people to come in and shoulder that weight that the GPs who are there at the moment are carrying.’

He suggested health education chiefs should make it easier to switch to GP training - 'recognising the value that doctors bring from training in other specialties', or after 'going to work or train abroad'.

He said: ’We do have these train tracks, and we need to start to value the experience people bring.’

Dr Wijesuriya further said that for those who were already in GP training, the prospect of high-pressured partnerships left them 'feeling trapped' and considering overseas careers instead.

He said: ‘People do feel trapped in some ways and they are leaving, many of them to make sure they are better trained.'

To avoid a future where there was no one to come into partnerships, the overwhelming workload of GPs in practices had to be addressed, Dr Wijesuriya stressed.

He said: 'What people want is changing and we have to accommodate that so we have a future workforce, so there are people to come into partnerships in practices.

‘This generation want to feel valued and are looking at these increased pressures – seeing the pressures that GPs are under - it’s absolutely incredible.’

Meanwhile, for trainee doctors in general, Dr Wijesuriya said the NHS faces a major challenge in ‘rebuilding trust’ after last year’s damaging contract battle.

To repair this rift - which saw junior doctors going on several strikes only to have the Government impose their new contract - Dr Wijesuriya said the NHS must look at its emotional impact.

He said: 'I’m really mindful of the emotional impact of imposition, you have to look at how you rebuild trust between employer and employees.

‘It’s something we need to work on, because the reality is, this [contract] is something that has been forced on people.’

The junior doctor dispute and changes to UK health education

Jeremy Hunt hailed a ‘historic settlement in the contract fight last year after a year of industrial dispute, including unprecedented strike action, between junior doctors and the Government over a new contract which redefined weekends and evenings as core working hours.

But the GMC said as recently as December last year that heavy workload was undermining junior doctors’ training, and surveys show half of newly qualified GPs and other doctors are looking to work overseas.

The BMA’s GP Trainee committee have recently agreed new guidance on work scheduling for training practices and trainees, and Dr Wijesuriya told Pulse that in general practice training they were fortunate to have safeguarded quality training time.

At the Conservative Party Conference 2016 Jeremy Hunt committed to tying NHS trained doctors to the health service for at least four years, but Dr Wijesuriya thinks mending its relationship with junior doctors and boosting GPs numbers will require more flexibility in accomodating new career paths, not less.


Readers' comments (9)



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  • Vinci Ho

    Dear Jeeves
    While your JD's battles last year were about 'Fighting hard' ; perhaps this year is about 'Fighting smart'.
    All the best

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  • Vinci Ho

    'They created me , but they cannot control me.'
    Ghost in The Shell (2017)

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  • Operation Stable Door.... you might as well pack the bags and join them....the current government doesn't care and isn't listening.....

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  • A lot of this seems to centre on the disagreement about who is indentured to whom. Because "the NHS trains Drs" there is some idea centrally that there is a debt or duty to stay. However, I see that Medical Training is very expensive for the current graduates (I was lucky to train in the mid-80s) and the NHS has no moral claim to have a monopoly over their labour. The GMC / HEE rules about becoming "re-validated" after working overseas is probably the nastiest response that the NHS could think of. 6:58 Market forces, YES, I agree. If you deliberately under-resource something, for probably 2 or 3 decades, this is what happens so suck it up DoH! Sadly this is endemic in UK across all sectors both private and public and leaving the UK would really teach them a lesson. I fear that there will never be an honest dialogue between the medical profession and the monopoly employer (DoH). Cry "Havoc..." Ha!

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see , there is a philosophical argument here:
    Yes , the government had used taxpayers' money to invest in these students and accordingly had the say on how they should repay the 'investors'. The say would be an absolute one if the fees were fully paid by them.
    What is the reality? The original cost of investment was shared by most students e.g.£9000 per year. So as a small 'shareholder' , where is their say? Being locked up for 5 years was a top to bottom executive order.
    Many students these day are in debts to government on graduation .As long as they repay their debts eventually and legitimately , they owe nothing else. Rather, the government should create 'additional incentive(s)' for them to stay on the medical profession in this country 5 years or even 10 years.
    A potential 'shareholder' does not need to buy a share if it is not to pay dividends and other shares are also available.

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  • Make the profession attractive. No one will want to leave. Simple. I don't see too many doctors from USA, Canada or Australia rushing to work here.

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  • News flash!! Really?1 Pulse story number 5 again.

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  • It has gone too far to reverse. Juniors get what training you need and get out while you still can. Australia, Canada and NZ will fill up sooner rather than later!

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