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Becoming a GP an impossible option for many trainees
The current crisis in GP recruitment looks set to worsen with the news that the pay for trainee GP’s is to be cut by 31%. BMA leaders have even warned that this significant pay cut could not only exacerbate the current workforce shortage but also make becoming a GP an impossible option for many trainees. The pay cut has arisen from the decision to remove the GP supplement which slashes their pay by the aforementioned 31%.
This supplement was first introduce to ensure trainee GP’s received a level of pay on a par with that received by specialist trainees in other areas. The BMA, however, have now submitted evidence which highlights the fact that the DDRB are committed to reviewing this supplement in light of both the progress that has been made in the reduction of hours doctors spend in hospital training and the latest evidence regarding the recruitment of GP registrars.
The reduction in their salary is effectively a massive disincentive for those medical trainees considering a career as a GP and couldn’t have come at a worse time considering the climate. The BMA added that these potential cuts could effectively put an end to the hopes of those trainees who were considering becoming a GP as this lower salary would make it impossible for many who had family and financial commitments.
A previous government mandate has stated that HEE, Health Education England, must ensure that 50% of all the medical trainees take up GP posts by 2014, which equates to filling 3250 posts. Considering the current climate the BMA has described this as ambitious. Despite the all out recruitment drive last year only 2688 trainees were recruited into general practice, leaving nearly 400 positions unfilled.
In the evidence which the BMA published they have said that this supplement was first introduced in order to ensure that trainee GP’s did not suffer a disadvantage in their salaries compared to doctors training is specialist areas and it was needed as much today as it was then. This supplement ensures that entering general practice remains both a viable training option and an attractive career choice for medical graduates.
The removal of this general practice training supplement will result in a significant pay difference between GP and specialist trainees. As a result more medical graduates are likely to opt for training posts in hospitals to continue their specialist training, which in turn will see future recruitment drives falling even more short than last years. General practice is facing a crisis in both recruitment and retention, so what is the answer?
In order to avoid the inevitable shortage in GP’s in a few years time this supplement must remain in place, or something else introduced to entice medical graduates into this most essential of specialist fields. Already we are seeing practices having to close due to the shortage of GP’s leaving existing practices struggling to cope with the influx of extra patients with their limited resources.
The PM has claimed that patients will have access to GP’s 7 days a week if they return to power in the next election but quite where these GP’s will come from is a glaring omission from this bold statement. Bigger incentives are needed to encourage more trainees to enter general practice, and they are needed now, otherwise the heart of the NHS could well cease to beat.