GP practices will receive a minimum of £28,000 to host an undergraduate medical student for a year’s placement in 2020/21, the Government has announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it will introduce a national minimum tariff for undergraduate placements in primary care, similar to those in secondary care.
It said: ‘From 2020-21, HEE are putting in place a new national minimum rate for undergraduate medical placements in general practice.
‘This will mean that although general practice placements will continue to be under locally agreed arrangements, no price will be lower than £28,000.’
The new rate will take effect ‘when general practice placement activity resumes in 2020-21’, it added.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team workforce lead, took to Twitter to welcome the news but warned that this ‘doesn’t meet the true cost of training’.
He said: ‘Following sustained lobbying from colleagues at the Society for Academic Primary Care, the BMA and the RCGP and many others, it is refreshing to see the introduction of a minimum tariff [for undergraduate] medical placements in general practice of £28,000.
‘Whilst this doesn’t meet the true cost of training, it certainly is a step in the right direction. This starts to address some of the inequities in funding for training and should result in a better training experience for medical students in general practice.’
A study into the costs of student placements in general practice published last year found that they were ‘considerably in excess’ of the funding available.
Professor Joe Rosenthal, co-chair of the UK heads of undergraduate GP teaching group and author of the 2019 study, told Management in Practice’s sister publication, Pulse, that yesterday’s announcement is ‘a very significant step in the right direction’ but that ‘there is still work to be done’ to achieve parity with funding for secondary care placements.
Professor Rosenthal, who is professor of primary care education at UCL, said: ‘Whilst there is still work to be done in order to reach full parity with funding arrangements for medical students on hospital placements this is a very significant step in the right direction, and welcome recognition of the importance of providing all future doctors with a high-quality experience in general practice.’
The study showed that the cost of hosting a medical undergraduate is £40,700, with £111 per session for each student, based on a 37-week placement with 10 half-day sessions a week.
The new tariff of £28,000 will mean practices receive just 69% of this – at around £75 per student per session they attend, based on the same calculation.
At the time of the study, the average payment rate was only £22,000 per year.
In 2016, the DHSC said it would review the way it funds practices that offer training placements in an attempt to address unfair regional variations, following pressure from the BMA.
And last year, the Scottish Government announced an additional £5m in funding to enable more medical students to train in a primary care setting – doubling the tariff paid to GP practices for teaching.
It comes as HEE announced it will invest in 250 extra foundation year two training posts to help expand ‘shortage specialties’ such as general practice in 2020/21.
Meanwhile, the Government announced last month that GP trainee numbers in England have risen by 15% to reach ‘record-breaking’ numbers – mirrored by similar success in Scotland and Wales.
A version of this story was first published by our sister title Pulse.