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HEE pays practices £10k to take on GP trainees amid shortage of posts

by Caitlin Tilley
30 May 2022

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Health Education England (HEE) are paying GP practices £10,000 to take on new trainees in one area, amid a shortage of available posts.

Around 100 prospective GP trainees stood without placements in North East and North Cumbria after the intake grew from 192 in 2021, to 244 in 2022.

In response, GP practices and PCNs were invited by HEE to establish new training posts in return for a £10,000 to ‘support’ payment.

The offer was taken up by 37 practices, creating an additional 39 posts, Health Education England told Pulse.

An HEE spokesperson said: ‘The decision to make £10,000 available to support the establishment of new GP registrar training posts is a local initiative in the North East and North Cumbria area.’

The money was made available to ‘support with providing time, space and capacity for GP practices and PCNs to support the expansion’.

They added: ‘The extra funding has helped to fund 39 additional placements across the North East and North Cumbria area in 37 practices spread across the region and has been a priority in securing GP provision in the region.’

In all, there had been funding available for 68 new posts across the North East and North Cumbria area.

According to a Cleveland LMC bulletin which first advertised the funding, only a ‘current training practice’ would be able to apply because of the speed with which the posts would have to be created. The trainees should start ‘ideally’ in August 2022, although February 2023 was ‘an option’.

The bulletin also included a message from the local deanery, which said giving support to create new training posts ‘is not something we normally do’.

The message said: ‘I fully understand that offering support for educational infrastructure to establish new training posts is not something we normally do. I also understand that practices who have recently established posts may feel aggrieved. It has been a difficult process to obtain this significant investment in training. 

‘I can only offer what I can obtain. Strategically this is a vital investment for us to meet and maintain our GP recruitment targets and I hope you will take this offer in the manner it is intended – to support you and our trainees to promote the North East and North Cumbria as the best place to practice.’

Almost 800 applicants had been placed on a ‘reserve list’ for foundation training this year, after not being allocated a placement for FY1. However, all remaining applicants were allocated a placement.

record 4,000 GP trainee places had been filled as of November 2021, up on the 3,793 new recruits in 2021.

Despite this, the Government is by its own admission ‘not on track’ to meet its election pledge of 6,000 extra GPs by 2025, and health secretary Sajid Javid said he would ‘wait and see’ where it gets to.

Meanwhile, a 2019 study suggested the cost of providing undergraduate placements in general practice is considerably higher than the funding given.

This story was initially published on our sister title Pulse.