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Training cash skewed towards under-doctored areas

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government has revealed plans to deliberately skew distribution of new GP training practices in a attempt to attract more GPs to under-doctored areas.

It will commit 80% of its £100m investment in GP training practices to the half of trusts considered most under-doctored areas, with only a fifth of funding going to the remaining half.

The funding, first announced in last year's pre-budget report, will allow 600 surgeries to be upgraded as training practices by the end of this financial year.

But RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said by concentrating spending in priority areas, the move would encourage GPs to train and continue working in them.

The investment will create an average of seven new training practices per under-doctored PCT in 76 trusts, and 133 in the remaining 76, at an average value of £150,000 per practice.

The funding supports the extension of practice placements from 12-18 months, and the planned expansion of GP training numbers to 33,000 by 2011.

Practices will have to meet a series of criteria to have their premises extended, including being accredited to take additional students or trainees by the time the building work is complete.

They will also have to commit to taking the additional students for at least five years, or contractually commit to repay funding.

Professor Field, said: ‘We lobbied very hard for the money over a couple of years. It's all about increasing capacity and training people in areas of need where its difficult to attract GPs. There is evidence they stay if you train them there - I did a similar thing in Birmingham and the black country and it works.'

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