Written by Alyssa Walker

With warnings that nearly every General Practice (GP) surgery is missing at least one doctor, the  UK's Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) urges better recruitment--and better pay for GP training. 

In July, the RCGP) wrote to the health secretary asking for an end to the inequality in funding between GP undergraduate placements and hospital training placements.  

In an article in the BMJ, Helen Stokes-Lampard, the RCGP's chair, called for GP practices to receive the same funding that hospitals receive for hosting medical students. She explained that GP practices currently receive an average of $822 a week to host training placements, which does not reflect the true cost. She estimates that the payment is about 40 percent less than the average that hospitals receive to host medical students in training, even though the costs of hosting the students is the same.

According to an article in The Telegraph, she said, "Almost every surgery in England is now one GP short, at least, and the implications of this are very serious for the wellbeing of our GPs and wider practice teams, and for the provision of safe, high-quality patient care.

"Workload in general practice has risen by at least 16 perrcent over the last seven years, but the proportion of NHS spending on general practice remains lower than a decade ago and GP numbers have not kept pace with demand."

In her letter to the health secretary, Stokes-Lampard said that the challenges the workforce faces require that the profession attracts more trainees. She said, “Ensuring that all students have access to properly funded placements in general practice is an essential part of this.”

She cited 2017 research that showed that medical students who learn primary care training in general practices as opposed to classrooms are more likely to enter the profession. 

She said, “The government’s welcome announcement of additional funds for the NHS and its intention to develop an NHS plan provides an opportune moment to remedy this long-standing and urgent funding deficit."

Learn more about studying medicine in the UK.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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