The structure of GP training in Staffordshire and Shropshire is changing from August 2017 to a scheme known as Springboard Training.
This involves 4 month attachments in the first and second years rather than 6 months attachments. There will be a 4 month GP attachment in both the first and second years.
The advantages are:
1. More GP experience (4m in ST1 and 4m in ST2, 8 months in total compared to usual 6 months in ST2)
2. Early GP experience (This will improve GP registrars understanding of General Practice as well as helping them get more from the hospital attachments in ST1 by having a primary care exposure).
3. More variety (There are now four hospital attachments of 4 months rather than 3 attachments of 6 months. This allows a wider experience of hospital posts so hopefully will enable more GP trainees experience Paediatrics, Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology as part of their rotations.
4. Shorter posts will allow a better focus on training as well as reducing the “toil” of attachments with a heavier workload.
It is hoped that the GP registrar will be placed at the same practice in ST1 and ST2 if this is at all possible. The registrar will then move to the final training practice for 12 months in ST3.
Throughout the three years of the Training Programme they will be supported by the Training Programme Directors and their own personal Educational Supervisor.
In ST1 and ST2, the GP registrar is supported by Clinical Supervisors in every post whether based in hospital or General Practice. They should all be familiar with the workplace based assessments and with the GP curriculum.
In ST3, the GP registrar will usually join the training practice where his Educational Supervisor is based.
Here the GP registrar is immersed into the GP team and should experience a large number of clinical encounters, facing clinical/psychological and social dilemmas. The GP registrar will be supported by the GPs within the practice.
There are four excellent schemes in this area located in:
- Shropshire - including Telford and Shrewsbury
- North Staffordshire - including Stoke-on-Trent.
- South Staffordshire - including Stafford, Cannock, Rugeley and Womborne area
- East Staffordshire - including Burton, Lichfield and Tamworth
In the first round of GP Recruitment 2016, 88 trainees made Staffordshire and Shropshire their first choice. This made the Training Programme the eighth most popular in the UK and the most popular of the non-city based schemes.
Staffordshire and Shropshire GP Training is the largest training area within the West Midlands and trains 25% of all the GP trainees in the West Midlands. The 4 schemes have the capacity to train 220 GP registrars each year. In addition, Shropshire VTS has consistently had positive feedback from GP registrars in the West Midlands Trainee Survey.
Brief attractions of living and working in the area
The area covers 44% of the West Midlands Region and has traditionally been a blend of history, innovation and culture set in a remarkable landscape.
Easy access to many outdoor activities in the area, such as the Shropshire Hills, Cannock Chase, the Staffordshire Peak District and even Mid-Wales a short drive away. Many festivals and events take place during the summer. Traditional crafts such as the pottery and tile industry as well as the brewing industry around Burton still flourish amongst modern developments.
Provincial Theatres are based in Wolverhampton, Telford, Shrewsbury, Stafford and Stoke and show local and West End Shows, comedy, ballet and music events throughout the year.
The area is family friendly with castles, historical houses, walks and theme parks. Skiing is available all year at the Tamworth Snowdome and there are plenty more sporting activities with many football, cricket, hockey and rugby teams ready to welcome you. There is also a fantastic canal network and plenty of cycling and walking routes.
Leek and parts of North Staffordshire are within commuting distance of Manchester. For those wishing to settle, housing for rent or purchase is readily available and affordable. Furthermore, School standards are generally very good at both primary and secondary level.
David Palmer - Area Director Staffordshire and Shropshire firstname.lastname@example.org
The Teaching Programme
GP Training is a three year development programme developing doctors from a foundation level of knowledge and competence and giving them the experiences and guidance to allow them to graduate with MRCGP and the skills to cope in the increasingly demanding profession of General Practice.
The Learning Environments within Staffordshire and Shropshire
Area Study Days
There is a programme of Area Study Days looking at important or topical areas in GP Development. There is also an Exit Day for ST3 who are approaching the end of their training.
There are at least 24 study half-days usually on a Thursday where the VTS group of GP trainees get together and discuss issues relevant to General Practice. This is an opportunity to learn from your peers and also take a lead in discussions.
Outside the VTS sessions there are smaller learner led cluster sessions which are usually organised geographically. These provide an opportunity to cover aspects of the curriculum in more depth, improve knowledge for the AKT examination and to role play consultations in preparation for the CSA examination.
This provides a quality assured environment for experiencing General Practice whilst still having the safety net of an experienced GP available for support. Exposure to patients leads to clinical confidence and improved decision making. The supervising GP is available for guidance and assistance in order to ensure patient and doctor safety is maintained.
Staffordshire and Shropshire Training Practices face similar demands to all General Practices. Some practices are very much “inner city” with a large number of patients with socio-economic problems. Other practices face the problems of rural isolation often being located away from major towns and hospitals. Each practice has its own challenges but all will provide a worthwhile experience for potential GPs.
Hospital and Community Attachments
There are some innovative community posts such as sexual health clinics, hospice attachments and public health posts. Others are based at acute, community and mental health hospitals. Each post will have a clinical supervisor who is familiar with the GP Curriculum. They should also help with the Work-Base Place Assessments needed for MRCGP.
First 5 Groups
After attaining MRCGP and completing training, the first few years can be challenging both clinically as well as administratively. The First 5 Groups in each area are invaluable in providing peer support for newly qualified GPs. They can also provide a useful network for young doctors to keep them informed about opportunities and vacancies as well as keeping them up to date with local CCG and structural changes.
The RCGP provides additional First-5 support on a regional as well as local level. All areas have active First-5 groups run by newly qualified GPs.
There is a Facebook Page which is a wall for practices to advertise vacancies and other opportunities. It has also been used by newly qualified GPs to make practices aware of their availability. You can search on Facebook for Staffordshire and Shropshire General Practice Exchange.
Follow local education and training news on Twitter @GPStaffsShrops.
Local support for MRCGP assessments
The trainers have a positive attitude towards providing the necessary support for GP registrars to pass the CSA and AKT. Each VTS has a lead TPD who will provide additional support and advice for registrars who may have communication or language problems. Newly qualified GPs who have recently been through the process, as well as experienced trainers also provide additional advice.
Each VTS area organises training days looking at the CSA, giving feedback of communication skills and discussing management of complex problems. Ideally potential problems should be identified early and action taken to improve the situation for the GP registrar.
Opportunities within each Vocational Training Scheme
- Four GP training packages based at Burton, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Shrewsbury/Telford
- Well-established network of experienced trainers across the areas
- Good standard of Educational Reviews and trainee support through-out
- University Hospital of North Staffordshire acts as a tertiary centre
- District General Hospitals based at Burton, Stafford, Telford and Shrewsbury delivering training focussed on GP curriculum and GP requirements
A large scheme with 70 trainees provides into two more effective smaller schemes on a Thursday morning and afternoon. Secondary care jobs are delivered at two hospital centres at the county town of Shrewsbury as well as Telford. Both these hospitals are working closely with the TPDs to deliver GP focussed training.
GP trainers are well motivated and provide superb support for trainees who are accepted into the practice team. Practices can be town or rural based. The out-of-hours provider ShropDoc provides well-supported OOHs training for the GP trainees.
The GP cluster Quality Assurance Visit organised by Health Education England highlighted the following notable achievements in 2013:
- Enthusiastic TPD’s, trainees and trainers
- Supervision and support good with trainees
- Shropdoc (Out of Hours) is good, supervision excellent with trainer involvement
- Foundation experience form used in ST1 to allocate ST2 posts
- C.S.A. training involving trainers is good
- Trainer workshops highly appreciated.
- VTS split into morning and afternoon so that everyone is not out of the hospital at thesame time.
- Good JEST/GMC Survey results.