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A questionnaire survey of 293 general practitioner trainers in England to investigate paediatric screening yielded a response rate of 86%. Paediatric screening sessions were being held by a practice member in the practices of 54% of respondents. In one-third of these practices the practice member was acting in the capacity of clinical medical officer. Of responding trainers 28% held sessions personally and these doctors did not differ significantly from the remainder in terms of sex, seniority, hospital paediatric experience or membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners. About one-third of the doctors holding sessions had spent six months or more working in hospital paediatric departments. First-hand experience of paediatric screening was gained by 60% of the current trainees.
Sixty-one per cent of trainers agreed with the view that developmental screening is an appropriate task for all general practitioners, while 71% saw it as an appropriate task for themselves. Eight-six per cent of trainers agreed that doctors should be paid for this service if trained for it, and 56% that they should be paid regardless of training.
Comparative figures were determined from a parallel survey of 333 non-training general practitioners of whom 225 (68%) replied. Paediatric screening sessions were held in the practices of 34% of respondents and personally by 21%.
It is concluded that there is a high level of interest in paediatric screening among general practitioners, but that there is a need for further expansion in postgraduate paediatric training.