The RCGP is meeting with medical school heads to discuss the ‘toxic anti-GP culture’ in universities, which has to be addressed before the gaps in GP postgraduate training can be fixed, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker has said.
Responding to a question about low morale in the profession affecting whether medical graduates want to study general practice at a session during the RCGP conference in Liverpool last week, Dr Baker said that she had raised the issue of a ‘toxic anti-GP culture’ medical schools in meetings with officials.
She said that evidence suggests that students go in to medical schools with positive feelings about general practice, but this is gone by the time they leave.
It comes as GP training is in the middle of a recruitment crisis, with Health Education England falling well short of targets for recruiting GP trainees, and some parts of the country failing to fill up to 40% of places for this year’s intake.
Dr Baker’s comments follow statements by the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, who told the same conference that the rates of Oxford and Cambridge universities graduates taking up general practice was low, and called on GPs to rectify this by helping to ‘make more of the folks you teach at Cambridge more interested in taking it up’.
Similarly, last year the then chair of the GP National Recruitment Office, Professor Bill Irish, told Pulse that top universities in the country are not doing enough to produce future GPs and are adding to a recruitment crisis in the profession, while a taskforce on GP training recommended that medical schools were incentivised to produce GPs.
The RCGP chair said that she the college will be putting together evidence to discuss the issue of the culture in medical schools before meeting with the Medical Schools Council.
Dr Baker said that she had raised the issue of a ‘toxic anti-GP culture’ in meetings with education leaders.
She said: ‘There were quite a lot of colleagues who thought that was an astonishing thing to say and that it must have been years ago and that it was not like that anymore. I said that actually it was still like that and indeed we did have evidence.
‘The head of the Medical Schools Council has formally asked for a meeting to discuss this issue and we will be putting together evidence and looking at the published literature.
‘Evidence suggests that when students go into medical school, they are very positive about general practice, and when they come out of the other end, they are not. So what is going on?’
She added: ‘It will be part of how we move our campaign on, in terms of tackling attitudes to medical school.’
A taskforce review from July this year – led by GP postgraduate deans, having been commissioned by the Department of Health – called for medical schools to review their output of GPs.
It said: ‘The Medical Schools Councils should evaluate why there is such high variation between medical schools in the proportion of medical students choosing General Practice as a career:11% of students at Cambridge were appointed to GP training, compared to 39% at Keele.
‘Medical schools should be incentivised by the Department of Health to boost the proportion of graduates choosing GP training as a first choice.’
Mr Stevens last week said: ‘I was looking at the proportion of medical school graduates who choose to go into general practice and Oxford and Cambridge are amongst the lowest. A bit of a cheap jibe, perhaps, but one thing you could help us with is make more of the folks you teach at Cambridge more interested in taking it up.’