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NHS England adviser in talks with HEE about five-year GP training

A prominent GP and NHS England adviser has said he is in talks with education bosses about offering five-year GP training schemes.

NHS England's new care models advisor, NHS Tower Hamlets CCG chair and east London GP Sir Sam Everington said he is currently working on the project with Health Education England (HEE).

According to Dr Everington, this comes as the current training that GPs receive is 'not fit for the future', with only '11%' of medical training taking place in primary care.

He told delegates at a King's Fund conference that the UK needs to 'completely review the training that doctors do', which in some ways has not moved on for 30 years.

Dr Everington said training was 'not fit for purpose now', 'let alone... for the future', adding: 'So I have a project going with the HEE where we’re going to offer doctors, newly qualified, the opportunity to spend five years in general practice.'

As it stands, GP trainees need to spend just 18 months of their training in a general practice setting, as part of a three-year postgraduate training scheme.

But Dr Everington said that going forward GP training will be focused ‘much more on the holistic approach to healthcare and on the back of that what will be also different is we will train our own GPs’.

He added: 'If I looked at an orthopaedic surgeon and said to them: I’m going to spend three and a half years training you in general practice and one and a half years in hospital, what would they say? So why have we accepted a scenario where we allow our hospitals to train our GPs?’ 

An HEE spokesperson said: Health Education England is always looking for innovative ideas to improve local recruitment to general practice. As we outlined in our draft workforce strategy, it is our intention to investigate options around GP training in the future.’

Last week, HEE revealed that it has recruited a record number of doctors to GP training after the first intake this year.

But HEE chief executive Professor Ian Cumming also unveiled data showing 40% of GPs who completed training five years ago are no longer in substantive employment or working as long-term locums.

He argued that given the amount of money NHS spends training GPs, something had to change to improve the situation including how people are trained and kept on.

The RCGP had planned for four-year GP training to commence from 2015, before this was scuppered by ministers in 2014.

In 2017, a group of experts on the Shape of Training steering group argued instead in favour of a more flexible 'three plus one' model, which would include a one-year fellowship scheme.

The RCGP said last year it would continue lobbying for extended training and HEE backed further discussion over extending GP training to four years in its 10-year workforce plan published in December 2017.

But this all comes against the backdrop of a severe workforce shortage in general practice, with health secretary Jeremy Hunt confessing earlier this month that he is ‘struggling to deliver’ his pledge for 5,000 additional GPs by 2020.

Readers' comments (17)

  • GP in UK has been broken for years and needs to be fixed. We must recruit adequate numbers of intelligent, highly motivated students who will not desert when they are called too duty. It's important therefore that this cadre are not demoralised when that call comes. Be honest and tell them early that their service will be honoured in heaven and in the afterlife but in the meantime they will need to provide quality, efficient and affordable care.

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  • Anyone remember the film "Never Mind the Quality, Feel The Width?"

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  • Wish I was a Sir,but I suppose working in North West England NHS since 1988 doesn't count

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  • Stay at 3 years, take away the tick box culture, encourage some resilience and getting on doing the job rather than ridiculous restrictions on hours etc.... Rather like the NHS, the failings of trainees always seems to be someone else’s problem.

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  • Why is it only now they realise GP training is utter crap invariably arranged and provided by those GPs who are best kept away from patients. That is after several years being ignored and belittled on the wards. Remind us why so many are heading to far off sun and happy lives?

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  • The problem is , whilst I agree the training needs to be longer and better, it will further make general practice more unattractive.... what is dermatology training? Radiology? which pays more for less effort if we go to 5 yrs..... I think we're between a rock and a hard place unless they offer more tax breaks specifically to GPs

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  • Depends on the final destination 3 or 5 years to un underfunded, overworked unsafe pit of despairst doesn't really matter does it.The final destination is under rewarded, with shrinking renumeration in the last decade,the pension has been made a waste of time.Most new applicantsto the job are unlikely to enjoy much of this gold plated turd anyway.There is no reason to go to GP land, there is not even ANY joy in the job anymore.Correction only one reason get the qualification and flee the UK asap.Rant over!

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  • We need them at the front sooner not later. Like Battle of Britain pilots after a few hours solo or Blackadder's "Twenty minuters" (This is intended to be vaguely humorous.)

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  • Well admittedly we've come a long way in medical training since "see one, do one, teach one" but is this really the right time to delay the influx of GPs into the frontline? (The term "influx" used ironically, of course.)
    A bit like talking to a diabetic in keto-acidosis about his diet...

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  • An extra two years of being patronised by idiots and being fed RCGP cardigan nonsense?! No thanks.

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