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5,000 extra GP pledge puts four-year training in doubt

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has cast doubt on long-term plans to extend GP training, because of the difficulties it will cause for the Government’s pledge to introduce an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020.

Mr Hunt’s comments, made at a House of Commons health committee meeting today, are the latest blow to the plans for four-year training, which was endorsed by a Department of Health body in 2012, and was expected to be rolled out this year.

The health secretary said that the priority was to increase the workforce by 5,000 GPs and adding another year to training ‘makes it more difficult to deliver that commitment’.

The RCGP has been pushing for four-year training since 2012, and the Medical Education UK Scrutiny Group, which had representation from the Government of the four UK nations, gave its support to the plans in November 2013.

Under the proposals, GPs would have an extra year of training, in part to train them to deal better with mental health problems.

However, Pulse revealed in February 2014 that the plans were delayed by the DH, who said it would outline its position in a response to the Shape of Medical Training report, which had been released the previous year.

But the DH did not outline its position, and MPs on the health committee quizzed Mr Hunt today about how GP training in mental health issues will be improved.

He said that the Department of Health was ‘having ongoing discussions with the RCGP about how to incorporate that into training’.

However, he suggested that the Government was dropping plans for four-year training.

He said: ’One of the proposals is to take an extra year to do it. But obviously we have another priority, which is a very big priority for GPs, which is to get 5,000 more GPs into the workforce – a net increase of 5,000 GPs – and if you add a year to the training requirement for all new GPs it makes it more difficult to deliver that commitment.

‘So if we aren’t able to add that extra year in, because of wanting to make sure we deliver on our 5,000 GPs, then we will need to make sure that the training that new GPs get does reflect the needs, the very real increase in the need they have to be properly trained in mental health areas.’

As part of the four-year programme worked out by the RCGP, GP trainees would spend at least 24 months in primary care based placements, gain experience of general practice early in the training programme and receive specialist-led training in child health and mental health problems.

The RCGP had initially planned to implement four-year training for GPs starting in the summer of 2015, but ministers refused to give the green light in time for that proposed implementation date.

In the light of the GP recruitment crisis, GP leaders have since warned that any rollout of four-year training would have to be staggered to prevent a shortfall of GPs in the areas where the extra year came into effect.

Pulse recently revealed half of GP training places went unfilled in some areas of England, while a fifth were unfilled across the UK.

Readers' comments (15)

  • Vinci Ho

    You see, Maureen
    I have got a feeling that Agent Hunt will use your college as his shield if he failed to deliver all the irresponsible promises from his big boss . ' The college had simply not done enough to help the government to deliver the commitment !'

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  • It's irrelevant whether doctors get training.its the politicians who win and the college will be watching.!!at the end of the day patients come first and we as doctors we need to serve them.

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  • Bring back summative assement not the abortion of an exam regime the RCGP has in place.This is only in place to form an income stream for the college,we need soldiers to fight on the front line we need them now,but its too late the war is lost.

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  • He talks like the idea of 4 years of training is an new thing - it is not.
    He suggests that there are no other ways to turn around the problems with recruitment - there are.

    I for one will be glad that it does not change to 4 year training. Agent Hunt will use that to deflect away blame if there are no longer 5000 new GPs being recruited.

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  • oh dear thats good in a way.The hospital will not misuse you.you are not a slave.

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  • Easy dodge alert; from 2020 GPVTS programmes will only admit people with 3 or more years of clinical experience. FY1+2 plus 1 other LAT/S of your choice. Hence lots of pre-GP jobs are developed by trusts grateful for the workforce and we still get to say "GP training is extended by a year".

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  • why extent it when PAs can be trained and forced upon our patients after 2-3yrs of training and earn nearly the same as a salaried GP.

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  • Are there GP's out there who still think you are dealing with a rational sensible government?

    Most MP's of both sides are so ideologically fixed they would easily qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis. They cannot conceptualize the idea of evidence, or anything that disturbs their world view.

    If you don't believe me, make an appt to see your local MP, or Councillors. I have met several, most do not have a basic idea of what the NHS/medicine is about. Many are lawyers with no ability to think deeply - very frightening.

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  • where will you get five thousand fully trained GPs when NHs has busy striking off fully trained GPs because they did not follow their non Evidence based instructions and chasing away GPs to New Zealand,Australia and even bankrupt Greece
    GPs have been bullied persecuted as suggested in BMJ Editorial of Brian Jarman BMJ 2012;345:e8239 a'When Managers Rule Patients may sffer and they're the ones who matter and Prof Michel hands letters 'We need aggregated data on bullying in NHs' BMJ 2013;346:f200 where he pointed out some Managers doing bullying were Medically trained.The government has yet to help to solve this basic problem

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  • @10:34am spot on!

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