GP practices are not legally bound by the elements of the new contract for GP trainees that specifies how they should schedule their trainees’ work, the GPC has advised.
The GPC’s workforce lead, Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, told delegates at the LMCs Conference in Edinburgh that the BMA has taken legal advice, which found that there is no legal basis to enforce agreements on ‘work scheduling’.
It comes after GP practices have raised concerns that the guidelines will lead to trainees not having enough time with their trainers in front-line general practice.
The controversy centres around Work Scheduling Guidance that was agreed by the BMA and NHS Employers.
The guidance says that trainees should work seven clinical sessions and three educational sessions in an average week, with requirements for regular breaks and exception reporting where they are working longer.
However, delegates said this could cause trouble for practices. Northamptonshire LMC representative Dr Jamie Green said: ‘A lot of our trainers decided it was time to stop training because of this.
‘I want to see my [trainees] in practice. but this contract means trainees are either in the practice for very short periods every day, or three very long days.
But trainees said that the guidance provided ‘safeguards’. BMA GP trainees committee chair Dr Samira Anane said: ‘As GP trainee we have heard about the workload crisis, and how there need to be safeguards for all trainees.
‘We have here a contract where there are safeguards in place to ensure rest periods. Or ensure if you finish a shift at two in the morning, you’re not expected to see patients at eight o’clock – which has been happening.
‘We want a consistent message that unsafe workload, over stretched GPs, unsafe working is not good for anyone.’
However, Dr Kasaraneni told delegates that practices are not compelled to enforce this contract. He said that where trainees are employed under a ‘lead employer arrangement’ – with several organisations training them – then it is unclear who has responsibility for enforcing the working schedules.
He added: ‘Where there is a non-lead employer arrangement, where training practices directly employ trainees, legally you cannot be forced into offering the new contract. The choice is yours.’
The motion in full:
COVENTRY: That conference believes that the new contract for GP trainees will have the following negative consequences:
(i) practices will drop out of GP training
(ii) trainees will be less well prepared to become career general practitioners
(iii) the increased intake to general practice will become more difficult to realise
(iv) there will be increasing reluctance of trainers to take LTFT trainees.
The motion was lost in all parts.