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The BMA has stepped up pressure on the Government to reinstate millions of pounds worth of cuts in doctors' training.

In a warning to MPs, the association said a £20 million reduction in postgraduate deaneries' budgets had led to cuts and delays in GP registrar places and in flexible training schemes for all doctors.

It added that deaneries were being forced to take 'drastic action' as a result of the cuts and predicted patient care and NHS staffing would be damaged.

Health minister John Hutton pledged earlier this year that GP registrar places were 'not in jeopardy' despite the cutbacks.

But the London deanery has been forced to shelve a planned rise in GP registrar posts and end its senior GP registrar scheme and the Northern deanery has cut funding for flexible training.

Dr Justin Allen, director of postgraduate general practice education at Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland deanery, said cuts to flexible training were 'deplorable' and particularly harmful for general practice.

He added: 'We have a significantly higher number of women and many need to be able to balance their career with parenthood.'

Dr Ewen Sim, a member of the GPC's GP registrars sub-committee, said flexible hours were 'the only thing' that enabled him to get through his postgraduate training.

The BMA said the shortage in deanery funding also meant two-year foundation program-mes, set up as a result of the Government's Modernising Medical Careers scheme, were 'in jeopardy' in many areas.

'These areas will struggle to offer training that is even comparable to the current standard of house officer and senior house officer posts,' it said.

Yorkshire deanery has postponed foundation courses, which include GP rotation places.

Dr Jas Bikhu, postgraduate medical dean of general practice at Trent deanery, said it had not had to make any cuts but would be forced to if funding shortages continued.

By Cato Pedder

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