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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)

  • And they blame the new generation as Generation fast food.

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  • Hang-on!!

    What about those poor PA’s????

    They did those intense 4 year course (similar to medical school).

    They were trained to be prescribers, but the Government never passed the Act that allows them to be regulated.

    Are we now leaving this ready made mini-doctor workforce without fully regulating them, in favour of a new project?

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  • doctordog.

    Can I retrain as a pharmacist?

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  • If this happens uk medical degrees will not be recognised even in Africa

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  • 3 years way too long. Matt Hancock says you can knock it out with a four week course in AI. I mean Dr Google does a wonderful job for most people, right. Gove said we were sick of experts, so we can’t say we weren’t warned. I look forward to my coronary stent being inserted by a Girl Guide with a first aid badge.

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  • What about those individuals with City & Guilds proficiency in butchery, meat & poultry industry skills? Obviously i’m talking only level 2 and above here, but what about fast-track to FRCS and boosting our surgeon numbers?

    My hairdresser is very adept with a scissors, what about a quick return to the barber-surgeons?

    I don’t think they thinking radically enough to get a truly world class health system.

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  • How many times does it need repeating - it’s not the numbers you train, it’s the working conditions you offer. The government has an idea that doctors are too middle class (they don’t need to work as hard), if only they could recruit the lower-middle classes, then they might actually have to slave away in a thankless job. The reality is many doctors come from professional families where parents worked extremely long days as hamsters on a wheel E.g. in a law firm or financial sector. We have been indoctrinated that this life is to be expected. There are many from other backgrounds who expect to have time for family and friends and a normal work-life balance where you clock off at 5. The same issues will surface. No one wants to be flogged relentlessly. On my graduate course I trained alongside a physio and pharmacist. They both quickly saw the job on offer was worse. One went back to pharmacy, the other moved into teaching. Better conditions needed. End of story.

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  • Bob Hodges

    This is called 'Turning the taps up to 11 whilst leaving the plug out'.

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  • Pharmacists and paramedics see how shity the job of a doctor is.

    Why on earth would they waste 3 years studying to be a doctor when if they really didn't like their job they could use that 3 years to go into banking for example.

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  • In 1947/48 the BMA fought tooth and nail against the inception of the Nhs, at a time when the population suffered 'diseases of want' eg TB and Rheumatic fever.Presumably this was because they feared poor terms and conditions for there members.
    From the late 80's onward however it was obvious thr the situation had changed,the people suffered 'Chronic diseases ' largely caused by excess.
    The BMA once more rallied against meaningful change to what had become in effect a 'communistic system',presumably because in this buroctatic morass some of its people were 'doing verty nicely thank you,
    What comes around goes around,you can not in good faith support a communist system and not expect communist wages and conditions.This is what will happen if these plans are pursued,because governments of all party's have always prioritised quantity over quality.

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