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GP training set for swingeing cuts as education bosses told to find 30% savings

Exclusive The GP training budget is set to be cut in a move that could affect trainers’ grants and study leave, Pulse has learned.

Pulse understands that trainees’ salaries will not be cut, but all other areas of spending in general practice training are being considered for cuts, as Health Education England has to trim its budget by 20%-30%.

GP educators have already been offered voluntary redundancy, alongside all other staff members, due to a reduction in funding for non-frontline health services announced by then-chancellor George Osborne in the 2015 spending review.

The GPC said that these potential cuts are ’unacceptable’ and a ’further blow to the very foundations of primary care’. 

Health Education England is responsible for increasing the number of trainees entering general practice to meet the Government’s aim of adding 5,000 GPs to the workforce by 2020.

It has increased the number of GPs starting training over the past year, but still failed in its objective to train 3,250 a year by 2016.

But its budget was, at best, frozen as part of the 2015 spending review, with the Government announcing at the same time an end to bursaries for nursing.

As a result, Pulse has been told by several high-placed sources that HEE is considering cuts to all areas of GP training, with only trainees’ salaries being protected.

This could include trainers’ grants, Pulse has been told, which may be cut through removing the variation across England.

It has already offered voluntary redundancy to all staff, including GP educators, in a letter sent over the weekend. It did say, however, that not all staff who apply for voluntary redundancies will necessarily be granted their wish, and that it would look to retain the skills it needs.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, GPC’s education, training and workforce lead, said: ’It is unacceptable that the Government is considering forcing through cuts of 20-30% to the HEE budget at this critical time for general practice. GP services are under enormous strain from soaring patient demand, stagnating budgets and widespread staff shortages.

’What they do not need is a further blow to the very foundations of primary care through large scale cuts to vital training that helps produce the next generation of high quality GPs and maintains current high clinical standards. GP training practices are already operating at a significant loss as they provide training with poor funding and out of goodwill. Any such cuts could spell the end of GP training as we know it.

’Ministers need to shelve these plans and ensure that HEE do not have their budget cut to shreds.’

A Health Education England spokesperson said: ’The work we are doing to reduce running costs and ensure best value from education support funds is being coordinated across the whole organisation and the needs of our doctors in training and our other students, trainees and trainers remain top of our agenda when agreeing changes to our budgets as they always have done.’

Speaking specifically on the voluntary redundancies, Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said: ’HEE faces the requirement to reduce the amount of money we spend on running the organisation to reflect both the reduction in our administration budget over the coming period and the need to free up resources to reinvest in our priorities as an organisation, which includes Primary Care.

’HEE and our trade union partners are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies wherever possible. We are committed to using a voluntary approach, it therefore makes sense to run this scheme now, as all of the savings that accrue will in turn reduce the total amount required from the wider changes currently being planned for the 2017/18 financial year.

‘The scheme is open to all staff currently employed by HEE.’

The HEE board will be meeting tomorrow.

Readers' comments (26)

  • National Hopeless Service

    What will these educators how about some coal face general practice?

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  • How effective do they imagine this will be at stemming the tide of leavers and encourage new trainers delivering quality training. We don't do it for the money and we certainly wont do it for free. Neither will we pay trainees salaries even in part.
    I would quit training if I weren't retiring in July if this were to come in

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  • "HEE faces the requirement to reduce the amount of money we spend on running the organisation...administrative budget...."- this is a bit disingenuous- running the organisation includes paying for Programme Directors to run GP Training Programmes as well as GP Tutors who I think are pretty vulnerable. GP Training looks expensive to bean counters but it's not nearly as expensive as trying to do it on the cheap.

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  • This is a brilliant example of joined up thinking. Conservative policy making at its very best.

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  • Re Doctor Man 4.35 I don't know any GP Educators who also don't work at the coal face. Your comment is just facile abuse.

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  • Simple answer:

    Just. Stop. Training.

    And then see how the Government will hit its 5000 GP target.

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  • Stop training no money no workee.Once you have your letter put in your notice asap.Renumeration wasnt good anyway.Let the system collapse.

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  • So if you cut funding for GP educators, and abolish nursing bursaries, it will certainly improve GP and Nursing numbers in NHS. #theyjuztdon'tcare

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  • Clearly HEE has been talking to Pev because they both want us feckless and lazy Morlocks to stop being all touchy and feely in play school, and get back on the front line.

    I am a Training Programme Director (amongst many) who has received an email asking if I wish to take voluntary redundancy.

    Our NHS contract is negotiated by the GPC. We don't really have the equivalent in education.

    Not only do they want us to train 5000 more GPs and provide an education platform for nurses and other HCPs, they want us to do it on only 2/3 of the previous budget.

    This really is the end of general practice as we know it.....

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  • It's entirely intentional;. Kill the tree by snedding at the roots.

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