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Registrars' outrage over fee hike

Plans to treble the fees that GP registrars have to pay before they can practise have provoked a storm of protest.

GP representatives have demanded the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) scrap the proposals in submissions to its consultation on the fee increases, which closed last week.

The PMETB has proposed a rise from £250 to £750 for the certificate of completion of training while written and oral appeal fees would both rise by 40 per cent.

The board said the increases were necessary because it has a statutory obligation to remain in financial balance. Government grants stop in 2009 and it wants to build up reserves of £914,000 as a safety-net.

The PMETB said the rises 'should aim to achieve the principle of the beneficiary pays'.

But GPs have branded the increases a 'disgrace' and called on the Government to foot part of the bill.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, criticised the PMTEB for the 'meteoric' rises and argued that the consultation 'was more like an announcement'.

He said: 'It is completely unacceptable would-be GPs feel they are paying over the odds for an inferior services.'

In its submission, the GPC called for the Government to continue to foot part of the bill through a 'shared-payment' system to lighten the burden on GPs at a crucial stage in their careers.

Dr David Wrigley, a member of the GPC registrars' subcommittee, demanded a full cost breakdown for issuing certificates. He said: 'It's a disgrace really and the whole consultation is a sham. I'd like to see how the cost is broken down. The intial fee is bad enough but the hike is terrible.'

Dr Ishac Jalisi, a GP registrar in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, said the fee hike was 'shocking' and 'outrageous'. He said: 'I paid £350 to the RCGP and another £300 to the PMETB, and what for? I'm not sure.

'I appreciate that everything has to be brought into line, but the people ahead of us had to pay nothing.'

Dr Angus Carnegy, a GP trainer in Basingstoke, said it was the Government's responsibility to pay for ensuring safe and equitable standards in training, not doctors'.

He said: 'It's a large increase, given that registrars are not hugely well paid. It doesn't strike me they can do anything about it. I suppose the GPC will make representations but I'm sure they will be ignored.'

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