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Independents' Day

Scientists could be fast-tracked into general practice, politician suggests

The GP recruitment crisis could be eased if science graduates were allowed to do shortcut training courses as a route into general practice, a Labour MSP has said.

Elaine Murray argues that people with degrees in history and chemistry can retrain as lawyers but that there is no parallel to allow students with non-medical degrees to make their way into general practice.

Her comments came during a Scottish Parliament debate on 1 September on how GP recruitment could become more sustainable.

Ms Murray, Labour MSP for Dumfriesshire said: ‘I wonder if there is a possibility of well qualified scientists, for example, managing to be retrained into medicine, perhaps with an indication that they go into general practice.

‘I am not suggesting that lots of scientists should leave science, because we know that there is also a shortage of scientists, but people with that sort of training might be able to be retrained. There is a loss of people from science, particularly women; perhaps there is a possibility there.’

She said the suggestions would ‘probably horrify the entire medical establishment in Scotland’, but added that retraining science graduates ‘would be shorter, quicker and less expensive than training people from scratch. It might be one of a number of possible solutions.’

Alex Fergusson, Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, said in the debate that almost 10% of GP positions are vacant in his constituency.


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Readers' comments (27)

  • The main issue is not just the ever decreasing income, but more importantly that all enjoyment in the job has gone. I have not met a single GP in the past three or four years that actually 'really' enjoys his or her job. Hardly any GPs are full time any more. The job is too stressful and unpleasant. Until this is addressed even scientists will not stay long. In the past Doctors chose general practice because it was so enjoyable. One could develop a long-term relationship with families and the community. I am not going to go over all the various stresses in general practice. That has been done by many others on numerous occasions.

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  • They are simply missing the point.

    There is nothing special about GPs that makes us want to leave. Faced with the same day to day grind, lack of support and dumping from every angle you will soon see scientist turned GPs wanted to leave also.

    Fix the conditions of the job - there's no point continually adding more in just to leave again.

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  • A politician misses th F***ing point by a mile, no news here then.

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  • i would like my surgery cleaner to be in house of parliment as she has common sense and these politicians have totally lost it !

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  • Science graduates can become GPs they apply for medical school do another 5+ year with associated student loans then do a house year,then at least a 3 year VTS scheme.Do politicians really know anything about medicine are they as seriously as thick as they seem.The whole country is doomed if they are.

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  • Does someone somewhere in the DOH have a problem with understanding 'general'. There are probably a fair few specialties that could fast track graduates quicker to front line unsupervised practice, but GP isn't one of them. OK, we might be able to dispense with obstetrics these days, but are they seriously suggesting that an effective GP can be made without the four years training it takes after med school....Yep, shave a a pinch two off med school...but a) what do you produce and b) how effin miserable would those three years be....Well, probably about as miserable as our daily working lives are now....At least we have fond memories of med school !!

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  • more nonsense. we need a decent payrise and a reasonable workload- that's the recipe for retention

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  • I regrettably did medicine after working for a medical technology company as an engineer and became a GP. Back then (11 years ago) all the docs I spoke to said "don't do it" but I didn't listen. Biggest mistake ever. I know a lot of other '2nd career' GPs and none of them enjoy it. It's probably even worse for having experience of a normal job that paid ok.

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  • Drachula

    Am I the only one rather offended by the idea that you could fast track graduates into General Practice, but not, by implication, into other specialities. Does this politician really think that you can learn GP faster than hospital medicine?? We are the new general physicians seeing as we have to plug the gaps of every specialist, and that takes a great deal of experience. Anyway, there are already 4 year courses for graduates, and many of them make excellent doctors, but it is only 1 year less.

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  • Drachula

    I meant they make excellent GPs

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