This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

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)

  • I am not surprised with the current workforce crisis in GP world.
    We all have to blame the RCGP for this current poor state of affairs,by implementing the racially biased CSA exam and getting GP trainees out of the system and spoilt the careers of lots of aspiring GP trainees. (though RCGP still thinks CSA is a very fair exam).
    Now government thinking of fast tracking other specialty into GP's when they realised very late that not many newer medical graduates would like to be GP's in future.
    It looks in couple of years time that government might say that you could practice as GP's when you just finish medical school.changing goal post all the time.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chaand you have a duty to us as GPs and to patients. Clearly NHS GP is broken.

    You should be speaking to medical insurance companies concerning developing a national private health insurance, working out premiums and processes.

    Then carry out a ballot of GPs on mass resignation from the NHS and a move to the new system

    The NHS can always contribute a co-payment if HMG and DOH wish this

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At risk of contradicting all the above, actually I think there is a bit of a potentially good idea in here.In years gone by, if you were doing some specialty and then saw the light and decided that actually GP was the best and most fulfilling career option, you could count some of your previous hospital experience towards the hospital part of the training.
    Nowadays, this is very variable, particularly when you have had career breaks such as maternity leave during your hospital training.
    There is little point in asking someone who has been a hospital registrar in medicine, who may already hold MRCP, to do another SHO job in a team where they had just been the registrar (honestly, this has happened) as part of a VTS because they refused to recognise the previous experience - or in fact because they refused to say whether this experience would be recognised or not, so the registrar in question had to decide whether to take the risk, or to do the SHO job again in any case.
    Would it not make more sense to do the other hospital based specialties (paeds, gynae, psych), and instead of the medical SHO job to have the extra 6 months spent in general practice as a registrar?
    What is really missing is not a fast track system per se, but a flexible system to allow some common sense to prevail.
    It is daft to make a specialist from another area do a whole VTS scheme, including junior doctor jobs they have already done.
    And some people do genuinely see the light, by the way. It's not just the failure to progress that pushes hospital docs into GP land. Plenty of cases of GP being low status option in med school, so they go through a specialist training and get so far before they come to the realisation that actually GP is a much more interesting option...
    I would actively welcome someone who has done something a bit different first, and has a bit more life experience behind them.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say