This site is intended for health professionals only

Medical student placements in general practice are ‘seriously underfunded’, finds study

The cost of providing undergraduate placements in general practice is considerably more than the funding given, according to a new study.

The research, published in the BJGP, looked at the mean cost per half-day student placement at 50 teaching practices across all 25 medical schools in England.

It found that the costs of providing undergraduate placements in general practice were ‘considerably in excess’ of the funding available for them.

The study said: ‘The costs of undergraduate placements in general practice are considerably greater than funding available at time of writing and broadly comparable with secondary care funding in the same period.

‘The actual cost of placing a medical student full-time in general practice for a 37-week academic year is £40,700 compared with the average payment rate of only £22,000 per year at the time this study was undertaken.’

Author of the study, Joe Rosenthal, said: ‘NHS general practices are really struggling to find the time and space to provide medical students with the authentic clinical experience they badly need.

‘This study confirms that the funding currently available to GP undergraduate placement providers is far below the cost to the practice, and also far below the payment available to hospital placement providers. A more realistic and equitable tariff for primary care education funding is needed as a matter of urgency.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP said: ‘It is unacceptable that despite our persistent calls for change and the desperate need for more family doctors, undergraduate general practice teaching continues to be severely under-resourced.

‘This research highlights that GP practices which offer undergraduate teaching currently receive over 40% less in funding on average than the actual costs, and around 40% less than is available to their secondary care equivalents. This is simply not sustainable, especially at a time when we need to encourage a new generation of family doctors into the NHS and plug a major workforce gap.’

It follows calls that the extra funding for primary care falls short of what is needed to ensure good provision of patient care, according to NHS England’s clinical advisor.

In September, Health Education England’s head of primary care called for every deanery to run a pilot for specialty GP training