This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP training courses being cut due to funding squeeze

Exclusive GPs are reporting that budget cuts are affecting training available for qualified GPs and trainees, leading to fears that education will be increasingly provided by drug companies who are trying to promote their products.

Pulse can reveal trainees are being enlisted to run training programmes for other trainees in one area of the country after the loss of dedicated education supervisors. 

In another area, cuts in deanery budgets has led to a gold standard postgraduate training programme also being reduced from a full day to a half day, and a CPD course being cut, with GPs likely having instead to rely on courses being provided by pharmaceutical companies.

These are the first reported cuts since Pulse revealed Health Education England was facing a 30% budget squeeze and had been offering GP trainers voluntary redundancy.

But HEE emphasised only back-office operations and its own running costs budget were being cut, and it would protect commissioning undergraduate and postgraduate education, paying the salaries of doctors in training, and ongoing work developing CPD activities.

However, Pulse can reveal that a gold-standard training course in the south of England has been cut.

HEE has told Pulse that a 30-day course for GP trainees - which saw 20-30 GP trainees coming together throughout the year to help them prepare for exams, partnership or locuming - is being scaled back by almost half to bring it in line with courses being offered in other parts of the country.

Similarly, the Wessex deanery has completely removed funding for its five-day gold-standard CPD course.

Wessex LMC chair Dr Nigel Watson said of the course: ' You could take a week as study leave and have focused days, a neurology day, a rheumatology one. They were really popular and really good and that’s what the tutors will pull together and organise... That’s what’s stopping.'

He added that these courses 'filled quite a good gap because the CCGs lay on education that’s specific to their agenda, and the pharmaceutical type education can be good quality but it can be focused on promoting their product.'

Dr Andrew Paterson, a Portsmouth GP and chair of local charity supporting postgraduate GP education, said these cuts were a double whammy for general practice.

He said: ‘We need adequate funding for these GPs both in training and after qualification to maintain the workforce and to enhance the retention and motivation of GPs.

‘If these cuts are maintained GP postgraduate education will be increasingly in the hands of … those often perusing a cost-led agenda, or by drug companies who have a clear commercial motivation.’

Pulse can also reveal that cuts in staffing is affecting training. Dr Shaba Nabi, a GP education supervisor in Bristol and a Pulse columnist, said her supervising team haven’t been allowed to replace one of their colleagues and have had to ‘get a third year trainee to supervise the first year training and run the group.’

It comes after HEE chief executive, Professor Ian Cummings, told delegates at Pulse Live in May that the cuts would come from ‘back-office functions’.

He said: ‘From actual GPs receiving training, we are not looking at targeting that funding at all.’

A HEE spokesperson said: ‘We are reducing our overall running costs by 30% and the money spent on running our education support by 30% by 2020. This is not about training places or the quality of training but about making changes to our organisational structure and reducing administration costs to ensure we divert all possible resources to the front line and patient care.

‘The Wessex GP Day Release course is a half day, in line with revised training rotations and this is similar to most Schools in England. This course is not designed for preparation for the AKT but teaches the GP curriculum alongside many other formal and informal teaching opportunities.’

They added that the deanery ‘believes these changes will not have an adverse impact on GP trainee education.'

The BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting, which is to be held in Bournemouth next week, is to debate whether a motion demanding the Government ‘address the cuts immediately’ and guarantee support for trainees and trainers.


Readers' comments (9)

  • "But HEE emphasised only back-office operations and its own running costs budget were being cut" - well why as a TPD was I sent a letter essentially threatening redundancy????
    As there was so much outcry over sacking GP educationalists HEE are now trying to rewrite history.
    Is this 1934 Moscow??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • HEE have been a law onto themselves for years.

    They have damaged medical training across the board.

    I suspect there is plenty of room to reduce costs within HEE and focus their minds on the evidence of what real medical training quality looks like ( hint - doesn't involve e-portfolios!)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    A HEE spokesperson said: ‘We are reducing our overall running costs by 30% and the money spent on running our education support by 30% by 2020. This is not about training places or the quality of training but about making changes to our organisational structure and reducing administration costs to ensure we divert all possible resources to the front line and patient care.

    Sounds familiar to Auntie May's argument of cutting the number of police on the street ?
    What do you call the subordinates of a dead woman walking(Ozzy's best description) ?
    Zombies of a zombie??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • They probably just want to goad our retired GP Trainers to finally retire and enjoy their hard earned retirement. On a different note, why train GPs if they are all going to leave anyway as per the Big plan?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cut everything except my wages please.!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • HEE is actually hehehe haha. You learn 4 lines or 4 words in 4 hours from somebody who is making 400 per hour. I will never attend their courses.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    You see :
    You cannot be too robotic in politics. Political reality can change even in ten to fifteen minutes , same timescale when the fire in Grenfell Tower spread ferociously from bottom to the top.
    Terrorists and extremists are to be cold-blooded but politicians representing people , human beings, cannot be seen as lack of humanity. It is as plain as that .
    To call it fatalistic for what had happened last six weeks ever since the PM called the general election is an understatement. Politics is indeed power of 'say' but that say has to reflect the voices of people (instead of populism) . Looking through the politicians sitting in the cabinet of this government , it is fair to say there is no such quality. Instead , there is a very strong display of technocratic bureaucracy with little human sentiment. Both the PM and Chancellor are good candidates for this description. The latter answered Andrew Marr's questions this morning, giving us the impression that this tragedy of Grenfell Tower was just another serious incident which required an inquiry, whatever it is called now , and he would not answer 'technical' questions because to be politically correct , he was not an expert. The vibes he sent out remained 'cold'.
    For us , how long have we been 'moaning' (as Simon Stevens commented previously) about the safety of patients, hence people , because of the way this government managing the distribution of resources in NHS . Honesty and humility are long overdue. In a way , it is not much different from the local communities as well as professionals(from fire service, for instance ) giving warnings repeatedly to the hierarchy of Chelsea and Kensington Borough in the case of Grenfell Tower . Of course , safety recommendations were already made to previous governments (including Labour way back in 2000) and ignored . Similarly, we have been warning the health secretary about the thresholds of ceiling of GP workloads as well as minimum number of GPs(equal argument for secondary care)to ensure safety to our patients . One can argue that there is a fine line between scaremongering and danger recognition. It is clearly too little too late when you have a disaster like Grenfell Tower.
    It may be only slightly unfair to go completely for the scalp of the prime minister and ask her to resign , giving the complex political , economic and social circumstances the country is situated right this moment. I would give the benefit of doubt that she did cry and offer empathy to the victim representatives yesterday in Downing Street's closed door meeting . But that does not necessarily rectify the robotic and technocratic display on her first appearance immediately after the fire. One can argue the Labour leader could have 'played with politics' when greeting the victims on the ground but that can never negate the normal human touch required in a situation like this . Frankly , the Queen and Prince Edward , doing the same , are always politically neutral .
    The remembrance of Jo Cox this weekend clearly reminds us it is ultimately about people and what kind of country, with listening and accommodations, should be . The responses from all local communities , firefighters, emergency services and NHS in Grenfell Tower fire demonstrated the values and virtues of humanity , putting human differences aside.
    I might have played with sound bites when I called the last three elected governments(from 2010) :of the GDP , by the GDP and for the GDP . But isn't it the time we must reinstate the great words of Abraham Lincoln over 150 years ago (Gettysburg , 1863)?
    As I said before , differences were allowed to ferment into division and prejudice . Arrogance and bigotry are then the catalysts for actions against others in our society. But in fact , that is also true to inactions. This is perhaps the latest meaning of idleness, one of original Five Giant Evils of William Beveridge.
    So much soul searching and introspection for our political leaders...........

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    Happy Father's Day

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • May needs to retire immediately and will very soon into the deep recesses of infamy. Calling the mosque attack 'a likely terrorist attack' was a gross understatement and, however busy she may be, she can't escape the reality that she has no common touch or ground with the people she wishes to rule!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say