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RCGP in talks after warning four-year training will result in ‘sudden’ drop in GP numbers

Extending GP training to four years will create a ‘sudden and significant drop’ in the supply of family doctors, a DH-commissioned report has warned.

The report by Health and Education National Strategic Exchange warned that ‘caution’ will be needed if GP training is extended to four years.

The report comes as ministers consider the proposals  for four-year training after Medical Education England gave the final sign-off to the RCGP’s plans in October.

The RCGP will meet with Medical Education England at the end of January to discuss ways to ‘mitigate’ against the drop in supply of GPs once training has been extended.

The HENSE report used data and calculations by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence to estimate the supply of trained doctors in future years and found there will be a problem with supply in 2018.  

The report said: ‘[This] gives an indication of the impact of extending GP training to four years in the near future. It shows a sudden and significant drop in GP supply, which then takes a number of years to reach the level that would be maintained without the policy change.

‘Caution would be needed, as well as a clear plan for a safe transition, if a policy to extend GP training were to be implemented.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the BMA GP trainee sub-committee, said: ‘We know we will have one year around 2018 where there will not be a lot of GPs coming through the pipeline. 

‘This is something we need to factor into the training extension plans and mitigate against.’