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Medical schools review to recommend ‘everyone talks positively’ about GPs



The national review of attitudes to general practice in medical schools will be published tomorrow, recommending ‘everyone talks positively’ about the profession.

In an interview with Pulse, Health Education England education and quality director Professor Wendy Reid said this was one of ‘wide-ranging’ recommendations to feature in the report, which would also look at how to target students earlier to promote general practice as a career.

The medicals schools review was launched in March after GP leaders’ warned there was a ‘toxic’ culture putting students off becoming GPs. Professor Reid told Pulse that ‘the recommendations will be quite wide ranging, and will really help us to target, at the very junior level, those people who are not entering general practice’.

Professor Reid said: ‘I don’t want to steal the thunder of the report, but primarily it’s about raising the profile of general practice within medical schools, and also making sure that everybody talks positively about it.

‘This is something that all of us – both as doctors and as teachers – need to understand: the value of general practice to the health community, so there will be some stuff on that in there.’

Professor Reid further said that HEE’s new ‘targeted’ training for medical graduates who failed the MRCGP and doctors changing from other specialties, revealed by Pulse last week, will boost the Government’s GP trainee recruitment pledge – on which it is currently failing.

She said the programme would be ‘rolling out in the next few months, to a year’, when HEE has decided on the framework in cooperation with BMA, RCGP and GMC.

And that people entering the scheme, which would see participants come through quicker than the regular three years by tailoring training to account for their previous experience, would count towards Government targets.

She said: ‘They would count as GP trainees, because they will have entered through the same tests, they will have been assessed in the same way… It’s a different route to the same end point.’

Currently, the Government is missing its recruitment targets. HEE were mandated to deliver 3,250 GPs starting training this year – a deadline already extended once – though Professor Reid stressed that this year’s total of 2,936 is their best ever.

Professor Reid also emphasised that the GPs coming through this route would be as safe in practise as GPs coming through traditional training.

She said: ‘They will have to pass the tests to get into general practice, and they will have to do all the same hurdles, so they will be appropriately trained and qualified.’

But RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘Increasing GP numbers is vital, but this must not be to the detriment of patient safety. Any measures to achieve workforce targets must not lower standards of general practice training, or be seen as a way into general practice through the back door.

‘As the body responsible for GP training, it is essential that we are involved in any discussions on this issue. We will be carefully considering the latest proposals from HEE regarding its… programme.’

Attracting doctors to general practice

Professor Reid said the report into toxic cultures is timely following Jeremy Hunt’s announcement last month that the government will commission an extra 1,500 medical school places next year, saying ‘we want to make sure a significant number of those enter general practice’.

She added that they could not ‘put any numbers to it yet’ but the RCGP has previously estimated 400 GP trainees have been blocked from achieving registration after maxing out their attempts at the MRCGP exams.

Outbound RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker has long campaigned for a shake-up of anti-GP attitudes in education

The College launched a ‘ban the bash’ campaign, alongside the Royal College of Psychiatrists, last month to end stigmatising banter faced and has challenged medical schools about their ‘toxic anti-GP culture’.

And HEE said next week’s report, which was led by Professor Valerie Wass who currently chairs the GMC’s assessment board, had been completed in tandem with the Medical Schools Council.