The BMA has said that Government plans to cut the pay of GP trainees by 31% threatens to worsen the current recruitment crisis.
In its submission to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration, published on Friday, the BMA said that the plans to reduce GP trainees’ pay to match those of hospital specialty trainees amounts to ‘a considerable reduction in salary’ for GP trainees.
The submission said that the move could exacerbate recruitment problems for GP trainees, adding that the Government’s target for 50% of medical students to choose general practice is already ‘ambitious in the current climate’.
The DDRB is reviewing proposals for a new consultant and doctors in training contract, which would create a single contract for all trainee doctors, after negotiations between the BMA and the Government broke down in October. It is expected to report its conclusions to the Government in the summer.
The news comes as the latest warning over GP training numbers was issued before Christmas, when figures obtained by the GPC indicated there was only ‘one applicant for every four’ training places in the northeast of England for the August 2015 intake.
Issuing its warning over the training supplement, the BMA said: ‘This is likely to result in medical graduates continuing to predominantly opt for hospital specialty training posts, leaving general practice with the substantial recruitment and retention problems it is currently facing. About 400 GP training posts were unfilled this year.
‘For many trainees who are seriously considering general practice, this kind of relative pay cut could prove to be a huge disincentive. Those with fixed family or financial commitments could find themselves unable to pursue careers in general practice due to the financial burden of a substantially reduced salary.’
It added that ‘anything that negatively impacts on medical graduates choosing GP training could exacerbate existing workforce shortage’.
In the submission the BMA also warned against rolling out seven-day working across the NHS – a key sticking point in negotiations – for political rather than clinical reasons, and without a credible plan for how a seven-day service could be safely staffed without patient service cutbacks.
BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: ‘The BMA has been clear in its support for better seven-day services, but the Government needs to be clear about what an expansion of services will look like and, crucially, how it can be safely staffed and resourced, without existing services being scaled back… We hope that, in its submission, the Government has provided the detail, evidence and modelling on the changes it wants to introduce, which it failed to produce throughout negotiations.
‘This includes detail on what additional services it wants to make available, how much they will cost to deliver and guarantees on what support services need to be in place to provide them safely. Without this detail, we are being asked to sign up in the dark to changes without knowing how patient care and doctors’ working lives will be affected – something the BMA cannot do.’