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GPC slams deanery plans for fourth year of GP training

Plans tabled by deaneries for a fourth year of GP training could damage salaried GPs’ employment opportunities and will be of little value for GP trainees, the GPC has warned.

GP leaders said proposals for taking forward the RCGP’s plans to extend the length of training prepared by the Committee of GP Education Directors (COGPED) would create a ‘sub-GP grade’ and set a ‘very dangerous precedent’.

The RCGP is currently preparing to resubmit proposals to the Department of Health  on extending GP training, and according to the GPC, COGPED have suggested GP trainees spend an additional year in a training practice after completing the MRCGP exam.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said there were ‘big flaws’ with the COGPED document.

He said: ‘It would lead to the creation of a “sub GP grade” because practices would get a fully qualified additional GP for at least six months at a significantly cheaper cost than employing a genuine salaried GP.’

‘And GP trainers would be expected to take on an additional trainee for an additional year without receiving the trainers grant, in other words they do this because they get a “cheap doctor”. Not only is this unfair but it’s a very dangerous precedent that such work can go unrewarded.’

Dr Buckman added: ‘It’s bad for practices, and also bad for sessional doctors whose jobs these people will undercut – paid for out of the GP trainers budget. This seems particularly strange and we are very concerned that this document has obtained currency in the wider world. We’ve encouraged the College to agree with our position.’

Dr Barry Lewis, a GP in Rochdale and chairman of COGPED, explained that the proposals were designed to improve the career chances of new GPs.

He said: ‘In many parts of the UK there is a significant shortfall in the GP workforce despite the availability of “sessional” doctors.’

‘Spending a fourth year working in a healthcare community will greatly enhance new GPs chances of a local partnership or salaried position.’

An RCGP spokesperson said the college is working ‘incredibly hard’ to get their bid ready to present to the DH later this spring.

He said:The paper has not  been formally discussed by the College. We will be setting up a working group specifically to look at implementation and costings and how the extra year can be funded.’

‘The GPC and COGPED will be invited to be part of this group and a number of options will be considered before a final decision is reached.’