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RCGP calls for four-year GP training

College wants to extend GP training to ensure quality

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 04 April 2012

The period of time for GP training should be extended to four years, according to the RCGP, which is today making a submission to the Medical Programme Board of Medical Education England (MEE).

The college wants to see the current GP specialty training period of three years to increase by 12 months to reflect growing demands on GPs and primary care as the main setting for an increasing amount of patient services.

Currently, the UK has the shortest general practice training programme of 14 European countries, and the shortest of all UK medical specialities.

The college argues that while the length of training has stayed the same for the past 30 years, general practice is evolving and faces a dual challenge of an ageing population with complex, multiple co-morbidities.

A college spokesperson said: “The structural changes that the NHS is undergoing will demand much more of your average GP in terms of clinical, managerial and leadership skills. More and more patients will be treated outside of hospital, in their homes and communities.”

GP training had to evolve to reflect and accommodate this change and future general practice would only continue to be successful if there were more GPs who had more training and who spent longer with their patients.

The Department of Health invited the RCGP to submit a case to Medical Education England on the extension of specific specialty training for general practice.

An extension of training to five years was recommended in the 2008 Tooke Report Aspiring to Excellence on the independent inquiry into modernising medical careers and in the 2012 NHS Future Forum report Education and Training – next stage.

In addition, the college is also recommending that the minimum time spent in general practice placements would increased by 12 months (full-time equivalent) on the current statutory minimum, to a total of 24 months.

The college said its recommendation was not intended to question current training or the skills of existing trainees and recently qualified GPs, but was designed to ensure that GP training kept up with the demands of an increasingly challenging and complex environment.

An extra year of dedicated general practice training would allow the next generation of GPs to meet the needs of a changing population, and the practical challenges that the NHS presented.

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