GOVERNMENT plans to overhaul doctors’ training could push down standards, the GMC has warned.

Moves to abolish SHA-based postgraduate deaneries could “compromise” trainee doctors and lead to serious gaps in training being ignored, according to GMC chief executive Niall Dickson. His comments come as the regulator prepares its response to the Government’s workforce white paper consultation which proposes handing responsibility for education and workforce planning from deaneries to new “skills networks”.

These new networks will see GPs, local authorities, social care and public health providers holding and allocating funding for education locally, taking on functions currently provided at regional deaneries.

Mr Dickson told Pulse magazine that trainee doctors’ education could be skewed by the immediate demands of local services. The Government has said the move will make the system less “top-down” but the GMC fears it could lower training standards.

He said: “We have to ensure trainees aren’t compromised in terms of learning and development because service requirements have to be met. We believe we need local education champions. We currently rely on the postgraduate deaneries to perform these functions. Under the current proposals, deaneries appear to be going.”

Mr Dickson also expressed concern that no mention has so far been made of how these new organisations would be independently regulated.

He added: “Simply handing this over to employers is not the answer. We need an independent voice that can provide us with assurance. You need someone independent who could say ‘it’s going wrong in this speciality’, who will blow the whistle if something isn’t right.”

The GMC will issue a formal response to the consultation before it closes on March 31, 2011.