GP trainees are to spend 24 months out of their 36-month training period in general practice from 2022 under the new GP contract.
The move was announced in the contract agreement between NHS England and the BMA, and follows calls in the past from the RCGP to lengthen the amount of time GP trainees spend in general practice.
Currently, GP trainees spend one and a half years of their time in hospitals, and one and a half years in general practice.
But the new contract states: ’The GP training model will… undergo significant reform, as proposed by the Royal College of GPs. Out of their three-year training programme, GP trainees currently spend around half of this working in a hospital setting.
’From 2022, to support better training for GPs, and a more balanced distribution of trainee capacity across the NHS, the proportion of time that GP trainees spend in general practice during their training will rise from 18 months to 24 months.’
It also announced that GP training places will increase from 3,500 to 4,000 a year from 2021, building on the success of recent trainee recruitment.
Meanwhile, the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme (TERs) – which aims to encourage GP trainees to work in under-doctored areas – is set to expand from the 276 current places to ‘at least’ 500 in 2021, rising to ‘at least’ 800 in 2022.
All international medical graduates entering general practice training will also be offered a fixed five-year NHS contract from 2020/21.
The increase in trainees, together with the extended general practice training period, is expected to contribute ‘over half’ of the 6,000 more GPs promised by 2024, according to NHS England
Lancashire and Cumbria LMCs chief executive Peter Higgins welcomed the changes to ensure GP trainees spend more time in general practice, and the boost to trainee numbers, but questioned how practices would paid to support them.
He said: ‘The only issue to be addressed is the capacity within general practice to receive these students and the remuneration of practices for doing so.
‘They’re still paid less than they’re paid for hospital placements and I think they’re paid about half what it actually costs the practice. That’s something that needs to be addressed because we need desperately to get these trainees out, we need to give them a good experience in practices and we need therefore to convert them into new GPs.’
The training announcement comes as the BMA yesterday secured the new contract with NHS England, after voting down the previous negotiated deal.
The contract outlines several measures to boost recruitment and retention of GPs, including an uncapped budget to provide a £20,000 golden handshake for those who take up partnership roles, in order to meet the Government’s target of 6,000 more GPs by 2024.
There was also support for parents in the contract. From April 2020, GPs on the Induction and Refresher Scheme with children aged under 11 will be able to claim up to £2,000 towards the cost of childcare for each child while on the scheme (or £1,000 for those on the Portfolio Route).