The Medical Programme Board has approved the Royal College of GPs’ bid to extend GP training to a minimum of 24 months during an enhanced and extended four year training programme.
The UK currently has the shortest general practice training programme of 14 European countries, and at a minimum of only three years, is the shortest of all UK medical specialties.
The move was prompted by demographic and NHS structural changes, which will mean that GPs will increasingly treat elderly patients with complex and multiple conditions and be required to deploy greater clinical, managerial and leadership skills in the new look NHS.
An extension to GP training was recommended in the Tooke Report on the Independent Inquiry into Modernising Medical Careers.
Enhanced GP training will also include more integrated training posts; more early experience of general practice for all trainees; more paediatrics and mental health placements, and an updated curriculum and MRCGP.
Further work with several other key educational and regulatory bodies will now get under way to update the curriculum.
RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said the College was “absolutely thrilled” that its case for extending and enhancing GP training had been accepted.
“This is a momentous day, not just for general practice, but for the entire medical profession and, most importantly, for our patients. It is the beginning of a long road that will see general practice training evolve to meet the changes that are already taking place in our practices and communities,” she said.
She added that these changes in no way implied criticism of current training or of existing or recently qualified GP trainees.
“It is recognition that the needs of our patients and the communities we serve are changing, and for us to be able to meet these changes head on, we must make these positive steps forward, she said. “GPs are facing the challenges of an ageing population, with multiple, complex co-morbidities, and our training needs to develop to reflect that.”
RCGP case for enhancing and extending GP training