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General practice should be specialty, says RCGP

General practice should be defined as a medical training ‘speciality' to boost the status of GPs and the ability of the profession to influence NHS policy, a major new RCGP report recommends.

The report said that general practice requires such specific skills that it should itself be classified as a speciality.

The Medical Generalism report – published this week – outlines the RCGP's future position on generalism, and the work to
be done to shore up the profession.

Lead author of the report Professor Amanda Howe said that granting ‘specialism' status to GP training was an oxymoron in one sense, but had clear advantages for the profession.

‘Underlying this question is the sensitive one of status, with consequences for regulation and renumeration.

‘Clearly this is a political issue rather than a scientific one, and as such, needs to be settled by persuasive advocacy rather than by dry evidence.'

She added: ‘In my opinion we can certainly justify speciality status with dignity.

‘If this were to happen it would strengthen the voice of expert generalism in negotiating primary care policy and this would bring benefits for patients.'

It also says this would change the perception of the lower status of generalists, boost remuneration levels and enable the free movement of GPs between EU countries

The report recommends GPs have more time with patients, better access to additional ‘near-patient' or ambulatory diagnostics, and sufficient knowledge of paediatric care, learning difficulties, mental health, palliative and end-of-life care.