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Government to fast-track other medical professionals swapping over to general practice

Extra places are to be created on GP training courses to allow doctors who wish to switch from another medical speciality to be fast-tracked into the profession.

Setting out its 2015/16 mandate to Health Education England (HEE), the Department of Health said it should also work with RCGP to ensure any doctor wishing to make the switch has their training, experience and expertise accredited and recognised in doing so.

The DH said that ‘HEE will work with the RCGP and the GMC to ensure that action is taken to… allow doctors from other specialties changing to a career in general practice to have accreditation and recognition of their prior training, experience and expertise and therefore facilitate a more rapid progression to becoming a GP’.

It added: ‘Places on GP training courses will be created over and above current numbers specifically to facilitate this initiative.’

The development, aimed at attracting more medical professionals into general practice, is one of a number of instructions from the DH for 2015/16 also including a commitment for four-year training programmes for GPs to piloted from August 2016.

The mandate said: ‘GP training must produce practitioners with the required competencies to practice in the new NHS. Medical Education England accepted the educational case to extend GP training to four years and the DH is supportive of this in principle subject to further consideration of the economic case and affordability…

‘Working with the General Medical Council and the four UK Health Departments, the first new programmes should be piloted in the training year commencing in August 2016.’

The document also says HEE should:

  • ensure a minimum of 3,250 trainees per year (equating to approximately half of the annual number of trainees completing foundation training and moving into specialisations) are recruited to GP training programmes in England by 2016;
  • support an increase in the number of GPs returning to work after a career break for family and other reasons;
  • proactively support GPs in training to be able to work part-time for family or other reasons;
  • include compulsory work-based training modules in child health in GP training;
  • develop a bespoke training course to allow GPs to develop a specialist interest in the care of young people with long-term conditions for introduction by January 2016 (including
  • identifying key training issues to improve the care of young people with physical or mental illness during transition from childhood to adolescence);
  • ensure that training is available so that there can be a specialist GP in every CCG trained in the physical and mental health needs of armed forces veterans by summer 2015;
  • continue to support the inclusion of compulsory work-based training in mental health (including dementia) in GP training;
  • continue work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to further enhance bespoke training courses to allow GPs to develop a specialist interest in the care of patients with mental health conditions.

GPC trainee subcommittee chair Dr Krishna Kasaraneni welcomed the plans to allow other doctors to swap to become GPs, saying this would ‘undo some of the damage’ from standardising GP training in 2007.

He said: ‘General practice should be a very diverse profession and doctors from different speciality backgrounds coming in to it can make a positive difference, so this is certainly welcome and long overdue.’

He also welcomed the commitment to four-year training pilots, for which some local education managers have already begun setting aside funds, but questioned whether the Government’s plans for attracting new GP trainees went far enough.

He said: ‘It’s hard to get doctors in training to join us in general practice when GPs are being pushed to the limits up and down the country. You cannot solve workload without the workforce and vice versa’.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘I am pleased that we have greatly increased the number of posts for trainee doctors in general practice’.

Readers' comments (33)

  • HMG really underestimates the intellect of medical professionals, doesn't it - it actually sounds so puerile that you can't even be angry with this silly banter :)

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  • In the interests of equality, transparency, candor and fair mindedness i wonder if the government might fast track general practitioners wishing to swap to other specialities!!!!!

    I really am fed up to my back teeth with general practice in blighty and this might be a way of postponing my imminent emigration!!!

    Perhaps if old dave, gideon and jeremy funded a few weekend remedial classes for a month or two i might be able to turn my old hand at a wee bit of brain surgery?? perhaps for all those a holes in whitehall they might allow me to perform some colorectal surgery? Come on it cant be all that hard can it?? im sure politicians know far more about medical training than respected experts in various medical fields who have been telling us recently that VTS needs to be extended to 4years!!

    This new scheme is what we were able to do prior to 2007 when the whole system changed to the nMRCGP and compulsory VTS with the racially discriminatory csa!! The system we were told back then was broken, despite producing many fine gp's via the old mrcgp and summative assessment. My how these things come full circle...........

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  • This was all possible before MMC. What are the architects of this doing now? Who would have thought not all potential GPs were assembly line drones for 1size fits all run through training!

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  • So what will be the carrots to attract doctors to general practice?

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  • There is no accountability on parts of those who suggest short sighted changes in the NHS. General practice and the NHS is suffering due to certain people who always know how to fix the problem but are no where to be seen few years down the line when the problems get even bigger. The GP land has become unattractive for many reasons: low moral, falling income, mounting paperwork , increasing regulations, ever changing goalpost, target driven work, diminishing support services, lack of long term vision, media bashing of the GPs, and a lot more. Unless these issues are tackled I can not see how the general practice can become a healthy profession for doctors wanting to become GPs.

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  • Desperate. When will someone realise patients aren't patients half the time, just needy souls brainwashed by media in a nanny state. We don't need more GPS. We need less 'patients'.

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  • so surgeons fed up with the NHS will switch to GP, get MRCGP then go to Australia. sounds like a plan!

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  • This comment has been removed by by the moderator

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  • Have national advertising campaigns telling patients not to attend GP with cough for 1 day no matter how chesty they think it is, and get rid of access targets which perversely encourage access for non essential problems and clog up the system.

    No more see GP for letter, any other crap no-one else is willing to do, and make hospitals actually see and fix patients not just run a test and say it is normal so not my problem, back to you.

    Once done then the stupid workload issues and pressure will reduce and allow GPs to be GPs in a safe environment and then the exodus will slow, once being a GP is not the equivalent of wanting a hole in your head.

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  • I am retraining and have been subjected to the humiliation of being sent all the way back to ST1. Unpleasant when you've become senior in your specialty already. You get treated like the "lowest common denominator" as the myth that HP trainees must be going for the soft option is all pervading in hospital. I switched because I thought I would get better control over my working patterns and more autonomy and more variety in clinical work. This would all for in better with my young family. I feel angry and let down by the RCGP, the 'government' of the day and the BMA, GPC who have been as effective as a toothless tiger in preventing the denigration of Primary Care. I plan to stay the course and either take my CCT abroad or simply return to what I did before with a wealth more general experience and a new found respect for all of my colleagues in primary care who slog away tirelessly despite attempts to break them.

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