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Expert review knocks plans to extend GP training to four years

Calls for GP training to be extended to four years have been knocked back by the group responsible for advising the four UK health departments on making medical education suitable for the next 30 years.

A report today from the UK Shape of Training Steering Group said that a ‘three plus one’ model would be preferable and would offer more flexibility for varying local needs.

This will prioritise one year fellowship schemes either in the middle of the existing three year training, or after achieveing their Certificate of Completion of Training – whether immediately or later in the GP’s career.

The report says: ‘Panel members considered that the 3+1 model better aligns with the principles of the Shape of Training Review (STR)

‘The content of such an additional year would add skills beyond those that are required for CCT and would be responsive to local provider and patient needs. It also closely follows the Shape of Training vision for credentialing and would support Government strategies for delivering more complex care in the community.

‘Most importantly the Panel believes that this model would help meet the demands of current trainees for portfolio and flexible careers.’

Four-year training has been an RCGP priority for years and was even backed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt until 2014 when realisation of the scale of the workforce crisis saw ministers kick plans into the long grass.

The steering group, convened to take forward the recommendations of 2013’s Shape of Training report, calls for more to be done to place general practice on an equal footing with hospital-based specialties.

It says that medical schools must do more to build the teaching of generalist skills into the curriculum as well stamping out a culture of denigrating GPs that the RCGP has called ‘toxic’.

The report states: ‘Based on the changes that we are proposing to curricula it will be important that medical students understand the values and attitudes that will be expected of a doctor.’

This will include an understanding that a generalist and a specialist will have equal status and that most doctors will require to have and to maintain the skills to treat acutely ill patients in the emergency setting. There is also an expectation that general practitioners and hospital doctors will have equal status.

And Pulse has shown how BMA calls for the merging of the GP and specialist register are backed by the GMC.

Chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, GP trainee Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, said: ‘We welcome a pragmatic approach from today’s report from the UK Shape of Training Steering Group, which has listened to, rather than undermined, professional bodies for doctors in the UK.

‘We want to reassure patients and doctors that we continue to oppose any changes which devalue the high standard of medical training in the UK or compromise patient care.’