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Scrap fee rise for registrars

In the next couple of weeks, Patricia Hewitt will tell the nation how she intends to improve primary care for those living in severely under-doctored areas. But one blindingly obvious solution will be missing.

In the next couple of weeks, Patricia Hewitt will tell the nation how she intends to improve primary care for those living in severely under-doctored areas. But one blindingly obvious solution will be missing.

Training more GPs.

This will be consistent with a Government that has axed flexible careers schemes, cut registrar funding and refused fair pay for GP trainers. It will also be consistent with the apparent effort by the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) ­ a body the Government set up against the wishes of the profession ­ to deter people from becoming a GP.

Consultation on its plans to treble fees for registrars ended last week. The PMETB says the rises will enable it to develop a £910,000 war chest and are essential to ensure its survival when its Government funding ends in April. It also says the principle of 'beneficiary pays' has to be upheld.

Footing the bill

On both counts the PMETB is wrong. It is indefensible to ask new registrars solely to foot the bill to secure the future of the PMETB. And equally untenable is the view that registrars are the only ones who benefit from getting a certificate to practice.

What about the patients? What about the Government that gets a high-quality primary care service at a fraction of the cost many other nations pay? If the PMETB really wants to be seen as a champion of medical education, it should scrap its iniquitous plans and tell Government that it is a beneficiary and it has to pay.

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