Extra places are to be created on GP training courses to allow doctors who wish to switch from another medical speciality to be fast-tracked into the profession.
Setting out its 2015/16 mandate to Health Education England (HEE), the Department of Health said it should also work with RCGP to ensure any doctor wishing to make the switch has their training, experience and expertise accredited and recognised in doing so.
The DH said that ‘HEE will work with the RCGP and the GMC to ensure that action is taken to… allow doctors from other specialties changing to a career in general practice to have accreditation and recognition of their prior training, experience and expertise and therefore facilitate a more rapid progression to becoming a GP’.
It added: ‘Places on GP training courses will be created over and above current numbers specifically to facilitate this initiative.’
The development, aimed at attracting more medical professionals into general practice, is one of a number of instructions from the DH for 2015/16 also including a commitment for four-year training programmes for GPs to piloted from August 2016.
The mandate said: ‘GP training must produce practitioners with the required competencies to practice in the new NHS. Medical Education England accepted the educational case to extend GP training to four years and the DH is supportive of this in principle subject to further consideration of the economic case and affordability…
‘Working with the General Medical Council and the four UK Health Departments, the first new programmes should be piloted in the training year commencing in August 2016.’
The document also says HEE should:
- ensure a minimum of 3,250 trainees per year (equating to approximately half of the annual number of trainees completing foundation training and moving into specialisations) are recruited to GP training programmes in England by 2016;
- support an increase in the number of GPs returning to work after a career break for family and other reasons;
- proactively support GPs in training to be able to work part-time for family or other reasons;
- include compulsory work-based training modules in child health in GP training;
- develop a bespoke training course to allow GPs to develop a specialist interest in the care of young people with long-term conditions for introduction by January 2016 (including
- identifying key training issues to improve the care of young people with physical or mental illness during transition from childhood to adolescence);
- ensure that training is available so that there can be a specialist GP in every CCG trained in the physical and mental health needs of armed forces veterans by summer 2015;
- continue to support the inclusion of compulsory work-based training in mental health (including dementia) in GP training;
- continue work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to further enhance bespoke training courses to allow GPs to develop a specialist interest in the care of patients with mental health conditions.
GPC trainee subcommittee chair Dr Krishna Kasaraneni welcomed the plans to allow other doctors to swap to become GPs, saying this would ‘undo some of the damage’ from standardising GP training in 2007.
He said: ‘General practice should be a very diverse profession and doctors from different speciality backgrounds coming in to it can make a positive difference, so this is certainly welcome and long overdue.’
He also welcomed the commitment to four-year training pilots, for which some local education managers have already begun setting aside funds, but questioned whether the Government’s plans for attracting new GP trainees went far enough.
He said: ‘It’s hard to get doctors in training to join us in general practice when GPs are being pushed to the limits up and down the country. You cannot solve workload without the workforce and vice versa’.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘I am pleased that we have greatly increased the number of posts for trainee doctors in general practice’.