GP leaders are calling on health chiefs to reinvest the money they have failed to use to fill training places to cover ‘rapidly emerging’ workforce gaps in general practice.
Derbyshire LMC has written to their local training body, Health Education East Midlands, after Pulse revealed that the region had the worst trainee fill rates in the country, with almost 40% of places unfilled.
The LMC has called for the money which would have been allocated to training to be ‘ring fenced to assist with the provision of training for all grades of staff in all disciplines in general practice’.
It states: ‘It appears that the fill rate of general practice vocational training schemes across the East Midlands will be significantly less than 100% in 2014 to 2015. The result will mean that the budget will inevitably be significantly under spent.’
‘We believe very strongly that the underspend should be identified and ring fenced to assist with the provision of training for all grades of staff in all disciplines in general practice to help mitigate the effects of the on-going recruitment and retention crisis among general practitioners and practice nurses, which is likely to increase over the foreseeable future.’
Health Education England is mandated with getting 3,250 GPs in training by 2016, but in the wake of poor uptake of training places has been forced to adopt alternative strategies like an unprecedented third round of recruitment, and a ‘pre GP’ booster scheme, labelled a ‘dead duck’ by the GPC.
Derbyshire LMC chair Dr John Grenville told Pulse the surplus funding was needed to plug gaps in the GP workforce, saying: ‘There is going to be a gap, it has got to be filled.’
‘We have a recruitment and retention crisis, we’ve got to have that money to use to train – and simply to pay for the service of people to fill the hole that is left by the fact that Health Education England can’t get people to train as GPs in the East Midlands.’
‘That’s locum cover, nurses, nurse practitioners, emergency care practitioners, healthcare assistants – whatever it takes to fill the holes that we are seeing rapidly emerging.’
The GPC has supported the LMC’s proposals and said a coordinated effort was needed to make HEE identify the need for investment.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, the outgoing chair of the GPC’s GP Trainees committee suggested the money be reinvested in returners scheme to encourage more people back into general practice.
He told Pulse: ‘I completely agree with our colleagues in Derbyshire to say this money should be reinvested in GP workforce.
‘We already know there are tonnes of GPs who’ve already trained to be GPs who are waiting to get on the returners scheme, so they can come back to regular practice. So there is a pool.’
He added: ‘It would be so straightforward to simply move this money into the returners scheme to get GPs back, in a quicker time than to train new GPs, actually.’
‘So I’m glad they’re raising this locally and I think a coordinated approach like this, to highlight the problems to HEE, to get them to change their position, is the way forward.’
Health Education England was asked for comment but had not respond at time of publication.