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GPs go forth

DH plans for pharmacists and paramedics to retrain as doctors in three years

Pharmacists and paramedics could be retrained as doctors through a three-year course, under plans being drawn up by Government officials, according to reports.

The proposals would be possible following the UK's exit from the European Union, because Britain would no longer have to comply with EU regulations stipulating doctors must complete medical degrees of five years.

The Times reported the Governement will say it is drawing up the plans because it wants to fast track training for healthcare professionals who want to progress without taking a long period out of their career.

The paper, which said it had seen the proposals by the Department of Health and Social Care, said the Government will also say the new training is necessary to improve NHS recruitment. 

Doctor leaders said it was crucial the Government addressed the shortage of medical staff but warned there is 'no substitute' for the current five-year undergraduate degree training required to be a doctor.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair of the BMA, told Pulse: ‘We are desperately short of doctors in the UK and it’s important that the Government works to find a solution to this.

‘What must not be compromised, however, at any cost, is patient safety – anyone who is providing care as a medical professional must have the right knowledge, skillset, and experience.

'Patients want to be seen by well-trained, highly skilled and compassionate doctors who can provide them with the best possible care, and reducing training time won’t achieve this.'

He said there is 'no substitute' for the current length of training programmes.

Dr Nagpaul added: ‘While Brexit will have a significant impact on our health and care services, one thing we must ensure is that the quality of medical education, training and patient care is of the highest standard.’

The measures are expected to be announced in full next week.

The Conservatives pledged to recruit 6,000 more GPs over the next five years as part of their election manifesto, although previous health secretary Jeremy Hunt failed to materialise similar promises

Pharmacists have been granted additional powers recently. Last year, the DHSC issued its first serious shortage protocol to combat drug shortages, allowing them to change the formulation of the antidepressant fluoxetine on prescriptions, without consulting a GP. 

Earlier this month, the DHSC also announced that an NHS service that refers patients with minor illnesses to their pharmacist is set to expand, to further relieve the pressures of general practice.

This followed the RCGP's claims that same-day pharmacy appointments could help to negate demands placed on GPs. 

Readers' comments (41)

  • You couldn’t make it up. We are training 7500 doctors per year, which is plenty, and actually quite hard work for the NHS.
    The problem is a failure to retain experienced doctors especially GPs, and artificial unnecessary restrictions that stop other doctors working in primary care.
    Recruiting more doctors from the bottom drawer is not going to help
    Come on bma RCGP gmc etc do your job for a change and prevent this

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  • can they get any further toward the bottom of the barrel!

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  • Really?
    How about keep the current doctors, and have straightforward fair transparent skilled immigration with entrance test of english language and baseline clinical knowledge tests.
    Controversially I do think we should have a 5 yearly standardized test for all health professionals, rather than the glut of e learning and points gathering.
    I find it incredible how little nurse practitioners have to do to re-accredit given how much clinical responsibility they hold.
    Standardize it all with objective testing, and scrap the cr*p.

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  • DrRubbishBin

    Give them three years training by all means, get them working, but tell them they'll be Drs? No

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  • So pharmacists and paramedics have exactly the same knowledge that means medical school can be shortened like this?

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  • A totally controllable workforce though.

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  • Would you like a LARGE fries with your McB BCh ?

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Dear Paramedic, take three years unpaid leave, study for three years and accumulate, what, £20-£30k per year in debt, just to be offered a crap job at the end with low pay and low self-esteem? Emigrate!

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  • The issue is not how many doctors we train but how many we retain. Arent we also short of paramedics?

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  • I guess the genius would be it would stop other countries recognising UK medical degrees and stop people leaving as easily as no other country is going to think this is a sensible idea. In all seriousness is a pharmacist likely to spend 3 years retraining to take a pay cut for likely 5 years minimum as a junior doctor?

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