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Is the will there to solve the training crisis?

There was no press release, no fanfare and, unless you knew where to look for it, you would not find it.

I am talking about the GP Taskforce Report, written by heads of GP education after being commissioned by the Department of Health and Medical Education England to find solutions to the crisis surrounding GP training.

The report was due in March this year, and GPC had accused Health Education England – Medical Education England’s successor – of burying the report and the series of wide-ranging recommendations.

The current understated positioning of the published version hardly refutes the allegation.

But what an explosive report it is. It recommends cutting the number of specialty training posts by 2,025 in order to fund an expansion in the GP numbers needed to deliver on the Government’s aim to shift care out of hospitals and into primary care.

Pulse reported that the taskforce was considering ‘capping’ the number of secondary care places available and many Pulse readers raised objections, saying that general practice should not be seen as a second choice profession.

Of course, they have a point. The term ‘capping’ never made it to the final report, but the most recent training figures – which were published after the report was submitted to HEE – reveals that unless radical solutions are implemented, then there will not be enough GPs to deliver the current levels of care, let alone shifting care from hospitals.

There are recommendations aimed at increasing the attractiveness of general practice: a professionally-led marketing campaign, incentivising medical schools to increase the proportion of graduates going into general practice and incentivising trainees to take roles in deprived areas.

There are also recommendations for practices themselves. The authors call for federations to provide training, which they say will incorporate current non-training practices, and grants to be providing to practices so they can expand to take on trainees.

These are all substantial recommendations that will create change.

But the big question is whether those in charge – HEE and NHS England – act on them. Judging by the hushed publication, we should not necessarily count on it. 

Jaimie Kaffash, news editor, Pulse.