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The Royal College of GPs has warned that the GP workforce crisis is being worsened by inequity in the way GP undergraduate training placements are funded.
At present, GP practices receive on average £620 a week to host training placements, yet the RCGP believes that the true cost is estimated to be £1,000 - a 40 per cent deficit, and also around 40 per cent less than the average amount hospitals receive to host training placements, despite the costs being the same.
Therefore, Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for GP practices to receive the same funding as hospitals for hosting medical students as part of their training and for at least £31 million a year to be made available to rectify this discrepancy.
Stokes-Lampard points towards recent analysis that finds that the GP profession in England was over 6,000 GPs short despite government pledges made over two years ago to boost the family doctor workforce by 5,000 by 2020.
Stokes-Lampard said: "Providing high quality training placements in general practice costs around the same as it does to place medical students in hospitals, so it should be funded at the same level, and actually it’s a modest amount of money we’re calling for when you consider that the GP workforce is in dire straits and there is widespread consensus that we need to be encouraging more medical trainees into general practice.
"The NHS is 70 this week, and the Prime Minister recently announced an extra £394 million a week for the NHS by 2023. It’s critical that additional investment is used to ensure a robust general practice service for the future, so that we don’t even need to consider charging patients for their care, and our service can continue to be the sustainable foundation on which the NHS is built. Building our workforce is central to this ambition.
"Being a GP can be the best job in the world when we are given the time and resources to do it properly – it is challenging, intellectually stimulating and full of variety. These are the messages we need to convey - and offering high quality educational placements in general practice are the best opportunity for us to do this, but this takes resources and general practice is losing out, creating a vicious cycle. Investing in general practice is investing in the whole of our National Health Service."
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