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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Train not drain

Healthcare is changing at an extraordinary rate at the moment. Most GPs have given up trying to keep pace and are concentrating on just looking after their patients.

However, there's one thing we really should take note of, and that is training.

In my view the training needs of the next generation of GPs are being seriously endangered. Next August a new training plan, the Modernising Medical Career (MMC) plan, is to be introduced and up to 10,000 doctors in training may be left without an appropriate post. The SHO grade will be abolished, creating a logjam of existing SHOs and newly qualified doctors competing for the same posts. Government figures suggest there will be 9,500 posts available with the BMA reporting 21,000 doctors competing for places.

Two into one won't go, and the BMA has called for the Government to delay its reforms.

In our training years we all managed at some stage to turn a problem into a crisis, but there was never anything like this: the prospect of a mass of UK graduates going abroad or leaving medicine altogether, is the terrible reality looming next summer.

The new MMC posts will be advertised in an ironic pre-Christmas gesture by the Department of Health. I honestly believe chaos beckons – and here, in a first-world country with a long-cherished standard of education and medical expertise. I envisage a nightmare situation where poorly designed criteria will be used to screen out some of our brightest graduates, leaving doctors feeling disorientated and undervalued.

We must all register our opposition in the strongest terms. Next time you speak to an SHO to refer a patient, take a minute to ask about their career path. It may not have been a completely smooth ride, but at least it was logical and fair. It will be so different under the proposed new plan.

The training reform facing our junior doctors is a shambles. Don't sit on your hands and wait for the disaster next August. Speak up for your colleagues. Now.

Dr Andy Jones is a GP in Stamford, Lincolnshire

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