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PMETB to merge with GMC as part of medical training overhaul

By Steve Nowottny

The Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board will be merged with the GMC, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said today.

The announcement came as part of the government's response to the report of the independent inquiry into Modernising Medical Careers, led by Professor Sir John Tooke.

Mr Johnson said: ‘I have accepted the Inquiry's recommendation to merge PMETB with the GMC at the soonest possible time. The legislative process means that this will not be before 2010.'

‘The issue raised by the Inquiry was not about the undoubted contribution of PMETB, but about where its function should fit. It took the view that the regulator should sit across the continuum of medical education, from undergraduate studies through to revalidation and continuing professional development.'

The government also broadly backed the Tooke report's proposal to extend GP training from three to five years. Sir John said there should be three years in core training followed by two years as a GP specialist registrar, supervised by a Director of Postgraduate GP Education.

He also recommended that Foundation Year 2 training be scrapped, resulting in a net increase in the total training time to become a GP of one year.

Mr Johnson said the plans warranted ‘serious consideration'. Any redesign of GP training would be led by the Royal Colleges, he added.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chair, said the Government proposals were welcome but warned against 'excessive delays' in implementing them.

'The government's acceptance of the need for major improvements in medical training as recommended by Sir John Tooke is positive, but it's only a first step.

'We understand why some of the changes cannot happen immediately - it was the rushed implementation of earlier reforms that caused many of these problems in the first place. However, the BMA will be scrutinising the process of implementation to ensure that vital action is not delayed, or lost in a mass of bureaucracy.'

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