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GP leaders win victory over ‘unreasonable’ cervical smear training demands

Exclusive The Department of Health has intervened to prevent GP's from having to take compulsory training in taking cervical smears after GP leaders complained of ‘unreasonable' demands from PCTs.

The DH has written to all PCTs to confirm that GPs are not contractually required to undertake training, but still recommends that all practitioners take a minimum of a half day of training every three years to ensure they are up-to-date with new techniques.

It also advised PCTs to monitor the quality of cytology services and take action if they find evidence of shortcomings in quality.

The letter comes after complaints from GPs that the training was ‘unnecessary', after some were told training was a contractual requirement, with others seeing it written into PMS contracts. This resulted in a joint letter to the DH from the RCGP and the GPC denouncing the training as an ‘unreasonable requirement'.

Dr Bill Beeby, chair of the GPC clinical prescribing subcommittee and a GP in Middlesbrough, said: ‘This was exactly the viewpoint we had; that professionals should discuss with their appraisers about which training was needed.'

'I hope this will also be extended to other areas where people may consider training to be "compulsory". Compulsory training is out and appropriate training is in.'

But he added: ‘I disagree that half a day's training is needed every three years. The updates in cervical cytology training could be illustrated on half a sheet of A4 or by circulating a video or DVD to illustrate changes. I can't for the life of me see how you would take up half a day's training.'


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