GP training will receive more funding

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 30 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:762
  1. Kathryn Godfrey
  1. London

    The minister of state for health in England, John Hutton, promised that training for future GPs will be properly resourced. He was speaking at a GP recruitment conference held last week by the British Medical Association.

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    Health minister John Hutton promised proper resources to train GPs


    Despite a loss of £50m ($90m; €74m) in the overall medical training budget, Mr Hutton said that he had no indication that the number of GP registrars could not be expanded as planned.

    He said, “It is definitely not part of our agenda to cut back on the number of GP registrars.” He said that all doctors should work in general practice as part of their postgraduate training as a way of encouraging doctors to choose a career in this branch of medicine.

    Mr Hutton, who is in charge of the NHS's modernising medical careers (MMC) programme designed to modernise postgraduate medical education, said, “The ambition we started with in terms of MMC remains—that is, for every doctor going into the postgraduate stage of training to have experience of general practice.

    “We have not given up. We will put resources that are needed into the training budget to make sure we give people that opportunity.”

    Mr Hutton acknowledged that, with 90% of all patients entering the NHS being treated in primary care and with the shift towards a primary care led health service, more GPs were urgently needed.

    This was a view shared by Mr James Johnson, chairman of the BMA, who told the conference that recruitment to general practice had been neglected, the emphasis instead being placed on increasing the number of hospital doctors. “It is time to redress the balance,” he said.

    Professor David Haslam, chairman of council at the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that it was only logical to invest in the work-force that was taking on an increased amount of work. He pointed out that the NHS Modernisation Board's annual report last year showed that more than 700 000 procedures that until recently were available only in hospital were carried out in general practices.

    He said, “Prejudice remains about general practice. But it is the skill of the GP that allows the NHS to function: by handling uncertainty, by knowing when not to take action. And they are experts in managing comorbidity, which is crucial, as 65% of patients over the age of 65 have two or more long term conditions.”

    He welcomed the commitment to include general practice in postgraduate training, saying it would be of great benefit for all doctors to have a deeper understanding of primary care. He added that the new GP contract and the opportunities offered in an initiative for GPs with special interests made this branch of the profession more appealing.

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