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GP practices offered £20k grants to boost training places

Exclusive Education chiefs have offered grants of up to £20,000 to address ‘capacity issues’ at training practices, as part of plans to boost the number of GP trainee places in general practice.

Pulse has learnt that training boards in two areas have both offered GP practices grants for ‘capital infrastructure development’ as education leaders battle to meet their target of recruiting 3,250 trainees a year by 2015.

Wessex Local Education and Training Board (LETB) has already given 20 practices grants of up to £20,000 in order to boost places on 16 additional GP training programmes by 2015.

Thames Valley LETB has just begun providing grants and said it was unable to give figures on how much is to be invested, following a similar scheme previously undertaken by the strategic health authority.

The move has been condemned by GP leaders who say that the training budget should not be raided to pay for shortfalls in premises investment, particularly as NHS England has halted most new investment for GP premises while it carries out a review.

But the training boards say the grants are vital to ensure they are able to provide additional capacity for GP and practice nurse training.

Pulse revealed this month that the latest figures from the National Recruitment Office are set to show a 15% drop in applications for GP training, which has further damaged the Government’s attempts at training 3,250 new GPs a year by 2015.

Health education chiefs are also set to consider capping the number of trainees entering non-GP specialties under radical plans being considered by advisers to alleviate the GP recruitment crisis.

Wessex LETB’s plans, revealed in its Education Plan 2014-15, reveals that there is an issue with the capacity of training practices, as well as the number of trainees.

It said: ‘There are capacity issues with GP training practices across Health Education Wessex. Investment has started to enable practices to undertake capital infrastructure development needed to support increased training numbers. It is anticipated that the increased capacity will be available over the next one to two years.’

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of Wessex LMC, who also sits on the LETB, said that he knew of 20 practices – including his own – who had been given grants of up to £20,000.

He added: ‘The board has been trying to expand the number of training premises, the availability of suitable premises. They have given grants to surgeries to convert additional consulting rooms. My own practice use to have one registrar, but now we have two. We looked at a meeting room and made it smaller to make a consulting room for the other registrar.’

A spokesperson for Wessex said: ‘In 2012-13 South Central SHA invested £363,000 to develop GP practices and increase primary care training in Wessex. Health Education Wessex is following the progress of this investment which will support our increase of 16 additional GP training programmes by 2015, as well as providing additional training capacity for foundation trainees and practice nurses.’

A spokesperson for Thames Valley LETB confirmed to Pulse that similar grants were being given to practices in the region, although they added that this round of grants were in their initial stages.

But GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said that training boards should not have to make up the shortfall in investment for premises.

She said: ‘There has been gross underinvestment in premises since the new contract and it is wholly unacceptable to expect general practice to take on more and more work and services from secondary care if we are not going to invest in the infrastructure. That should be ringfenced and the money given to all GPs.’

‘Taking money out of training budgets to fund something that should have been funded properly in the first place is a short-term fix but we need a longer-term solution.’

Readers' comments (9)

  • until you sort out the csa injustice no amount of cash is going to persuade ethnic minority trainees/imgs to joint vts schemes

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  • Couple of years ago, we did try and expand the building to accomodate having trainees. No funds where coming from any where and we've decided to hold things off.

    Since then several GPs have left due to ever growing work load and decreasing income - now we can't fill the room with clinicians, never mind expanding. No capacity problem there then!

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Wessex has tried to be generous in the past, and, to be fair, has been pretty good to its trainers: I was one. However, converting broom cupboards into consulting rooms without windows isn't going to solve anything. The job has to be made more attractive. CSA? Scrap the e-portfolio too. That's what did for me.

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  • Just a month ago they was saying that they were going to charge GP surgeries for the "privilege" of having GP trainees. Wonder how that would have panned out!

    The writing was on the wall for a long time with regards to the manpower crisis.

    Silently hums to "he had it coming..., " from Chicago

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  • thanks john for your comments. the problem is that there is a great love amongst some trainers and people in the college for the csa and portfolio. they cant accept criticism of those things no matter how justified such criticisms are. anyway by all means people can invest more money but imgs will do what is best for their families and such a high risk discipline is not worth it. why do all the hard work visits admin and then be told at the end of a simulated exam (without real patients!) that you are not suitable to be GP. the world is a crazy place for sure

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  • I'm not sure if i'm jumping the gun but why should there be any recruitment problems when the ever expanding EU has open borders? I do not think some GPs from poorer EU countries would bat an eyelid about conditions here. They would probably laugh at most of the comments on Pulse.
    I do not think this is a good thing for General Practice for various reasons but if I think like a politican - this is a very easy problem to resolve if there are not enough home grown graduates to do the job. How long before the CSA becomes like PLAB i.e an exam to control supply and demand.
    At the end of the day ministers and chairpersons of our governing bodies move on after their 2-4 years in their job with private health care for themselves and their families so they won't really care about end result.

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  • Doctors in poorer EU countries do have standards, there aren't conditions in Europe that Drs would tolerate. You'll find the worst areas in Europe often devoid of Drs too. Also the NHS including primary care has not been able to attract any quality drs from Europe for a while.

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  • So the NHS under the ex M+S chief adopts "fashion Manufacturing Policies" and imports overseas workers as the amount they can earn at uk rates makes them a wealthy person in their home country economy?
    Not old enough to remember it ,despite being born but the NHS History is clear- we are officially back in the mid 1960's- " Brain Drain" " overseas Doctor recruitment"-
    So my Prediction?
    The cycle runs elect a labour government,
    80% Higher rate income tax,
    Medical Strike,
    some rehash of " fair days work for a fair days wage" industrial action by medical staff (cf1969),

    a renamed Independent pay review award body to prevent the need to strike in future.

    Oh sorry- we have that since the last cylce its supposed to be a fair wage system now , however the politicians feel they can renage on it for nearly every public sector employee.
    -Note Sole exception.
    The new independant one for MP's
    " its independant must be paid in full fair remuneration for responsibilities"

    I hope the public are slowly coming to realise that MP's deliberately kept the official salary low but the expenses huge and unchecked ,to keep restraint on public sector " but your MP only get 58k per anum".
    Clare Curtis-Thompson 250,00k per anum full package- where are you now?

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  • my surgery had 4 trainers and on average 3 Registrars, we are down to 2 and soon one. the e portfolio has killed off all but the most enthusiatic. its a shame - when we look around our area - a significant proportion of the new partners in surrounding practices trained with us and stayed in the area because they liked it.

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