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A faulty production line

Practices may have to pay GP registrars

The Department of Health is considering whether to force training practices to contribute to the salaries of GP registrars and foundation scheme trainees, Pulse can reveal.

Ministers have commissioned research to analyse the contribution of registrars and trainees to practices against how much work GP trainers

put in.

The results of the study by Staffordshire University will be part of a wider review of GP trainers' role by the department, which it plans to submit to this year's pay Review Body.

The department has consistently argued against raising GP trainers' pay and GPC negotiators fear it will go further this year and propose major cutbacks.

One GP with close links to medical education, who asked not to be named, said the research was commissioned with a view to asking practices to fund the 'service provision' part of registrars' and trainees' salaries.

GPs at training and non-training practices said this would be the final nail in the coffin for GP training and would lead almost all practices to pull out of education.

Dr Graham Davenport, a GP trainer and course organiser in Nantwich, Cheshire, said registrars could become competent towards the end of their year, but initially had to see patients at 30-minute intervals and discuss every consultation with trainers.

He said he recently had to take two weeks off from seeing patients himself to intensively coach one registrar.

Dr Davenport said: 'Most trainers are on a knife-edge and would pack up tomorrow if they had to pay towards registrars in practice.'

Dr Tanya Johnston, a GP trainer in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, said convincing her partners to carry on taking registrars was already a 'hard sell'.

She said: 'If we had to pay, I suspect we would stop.'

Dr Pat Lane, director of postgraduate GP education at the South Yorkshire and South Humber Deanery, said the summer deadline for the research meant registrars would be at the end of their training and therefore more competent.

He said: 'Any picture from that type of survey can only produce a biased view.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GPC negotiator, said the BMA would be repeating its request to the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body to nearly treble the trainers' grant. He said: 'There should be no question of practices footing the bill at all.'

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