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A faulty production line

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)

  • sorry to whinge on (i'm off today and it's raining outside so i don't have anything better to do!)

    but some of the ideas mentioned - DO NOT COST A PENNY

    - ABOLISH ALL QUANGOES (CQC, NHSE, NICE, Monitor etc) -> cost savings £100 millions -> use the money to fund doctors/NHS staff

    28 million (based on my calculation of 50 encounters a day x 14 days x 40000 GPs) encounters for FREE!

    again the stress and lost productivity due to GMC failures results in lost patient contact.

    the money saved by GPs by scrapping RCGP could pay for a locum (for a half day). A good deal.


    we may just come up with an idea that saves the NHS (or not) ?

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  • Great Idea????
    I remember the last time when General Practice training was in the doldrums, about 20 years ago. At that time it seemed that the only people applying for training were those who wanted to leave hospital practice. My memory is of lots of stalled hospital doctors, often of a dogmatic surgical background, who could not progress up the career ladder in hospital having spent years at registrar / staff grade level deciding to move into general practice. They were so set in their way that they were untrainable in the holistic GP style of management involving the patient in their own care. In those days the interviewing was at practice level (they were exempt from the 2 years hospital by virtue of their "experience"). All I can hope is that they are weeded out by the deanery's interviewing process (but with all the political pressure to increase numbers I am not sure that they will be)

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  • Clearly no intent to attempt top retain doctors already working as GPs. Dumping the usless timewasting obstructive parasitic organisations such as the CQC and the appraisal/revalidation farce would save money and encourage us to stay on.
    Endless bullying bureaucracy continues unimpeded and our pay is falling as expenses rise.

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  • It might also be worth reforming GP so that those that have recently completed GP training like myself are actually lured to stay on. I have managed to secure a training post in hospital, however I pretty much need to start from a post FY2 level! If we simply 'fastrack' people from other specialities this will devalue our profession...former neurosurgeons will not have access to same day CT scans, surgeons will not be able to avail of same day USS scans, and the ability to balance risks and diagnostic uncertainty is a skill unique to GP, a skill that takes years to develop and something that many of my secondary care colleagues lack..
    ..I know of at least 3-4 other GPs switching to Radiology, medical training & A+E. None of these specialities have had them 'fasttracked', why should we?

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  • usual completely misguided tosh..the usual misguided nonsense scheme trying to band aid the problem they have caused by their arrogant neglect and total doubt another idea from the bum polishers at the serial failed quango called nhse..a disgrace to the nhs.
    i seriously advise for it to be wound down and the money saved put onto patient care..also there would be more time saved for clinicians burdened down by their absurdly bureaucratic bullying top heavy foolish burdensome nanomanagement.
    why would any dr in their right mind work in the current dreadful and worsening conditions in general practice.?

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  • anonymous 8.31,
    I have been through this. I used to cry because of the humiliation from the ward staff. VTS trainees were for venflons only. In good faith, I did not want a short cut to GP training, so I did full VTS, how I regretted, which I still do.
    I had only 2 consultants who respected me and supported me because of my previous speciality and age. When re training, one is much elder in age from peers.

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  • Anyone can fast track or do NVQ from open university to be a GP. Why not? After all GPs are not doctors.
    Gps are paying a heavy price for their own deeds of good will, being over contact with patients, lack of confidence in saying the magic word "NO",

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  • Being a GP trainer, I have to say the worst trainees were the disgruntled Surgeons/orthopods/ENT surgeons/Anesthetist who moved into GP land as they were not progressing. Their limited medical knowledge was immense and they were clearly dangerous. Only the previous medics had any idea because 80% of GP is medicine and they had some idea of looking at the person rather than an organ. This is a dangerous step. Because of our years of experience in General practice, We could not do 1 year training in Radiology/urology/surgery/orthopedics/peads and be a consultant, so why the hell can it work the other way? The daily mail reader might think they can do it, but any doctor on the ground knows our secondry care colleagues with their on organ speciality would not last one hour in general practice seeing a child, an adult an elderly person, a gyne case and a psych case one after the other. Listen to the Grass roots!

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  • Steven Martin,
    Agreed this is down right insulting to GPs. However, at least it has come from the government. The insults GPs get from hospital FY1/ FY2 in their first 6 months of training is even worse. The next time I get this I will write a complaint. Surprisingly, when we as GPs speak to specialists, the response is different.

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  • Sorry mate, most doctors do have brains! Why would someone want to change specialities? Er, there is something called GPVTS you know and people have not been applying to it. Duration of training has nothing to do with it! Fast track or not, no wannabe GPs here!

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