This site is intended for health professionals only

Four year training a ‘gift to the next generation’ says Gerada

Extending GP training to four years will be the RCGP’s ‘gift to the next generation’, college chair Professor Clare Gerada has told GPs.

In her keynote speech to delegates at the RCGP’s annual conference in Glasgow, Professor Gerada said the proposals, which will now be considered by ministers after being accepted by Medical Education England last month, would enable the profession to ‘rise to the challenge of 21st century general practice’.

In a wide ranging and warmly received speech, Professor Gerada - who took to the stage in a Team GB jacket draped in a union flag - also urged general practice to channel the wisdom of ‘giants’ of the profession in order to safeguard an NHS ‘in distress’. 

She paid homage to forebearers Dr John Horder, Dr David Morrell and Dr Iona Heath, who she said could inspire future generations in this time of ‘triumph and turmoil’.

Professor Gerada said she was proud that the RCGP was the first medical institution to publicly oppose the white paper over health reforms, and said she cried when the NHS - a national treasure that should be treasured - was given centre stage at the Olympic opening ceremony.

Reflecting on the passage of the Health Act, Professor Gerada said the NHS was experiencing ‘the mother of all top down reorganisations’, after the reforms were ‘rushed through at breakneck speed and qualified by a thousand amendments, longer than a Tolstoy novel.’

‘As a result, our NHS is in distress. And so, too, are many of us,’ she warned.

She lamented the fact that despite making progress in scientific research meaning GPs were as likely to give methadone and insulin as their fore gave penicillin, the length of GP training has remained the same.

But she said four year training would be the College’s ‘gift to the next generation’ so they could ‘rise to the challenge of 21st century general practice.’

Professor Gerada described former RCGP president Dr John Horder, who died this year, as the father of modern general practice, who worked tirelessly to give general practice the same prestige as other medical specialisms. ‘His contribution to our profession is immeasurable’ she said.

Dr Morell, whom Professor Gerada trained under in the 1990s, was praised for being the first academic GP to become president of the BMA. Awarded a papal knighthood for his care of the sick and disabled, he also campaigned to take the profession ‘out of the mire of the marketplace to the high ground of professional medical care’, a challenge Professor Gerada said she still agreed with. 

Lastly, Professor Gerada quipped that current college president Dr Iona Heath was ‘not allowed to retire’.

‘She inspired me, as she has done many in this room. Generations of us have been moved by her writings, her speeches, her honesty an her values,’ she said.