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RCGP clears major hurdle in bid to extend GP training

The RCGP has cleared the next major obstacle in its bid to extend GP training to four years after receiving approval from Medical Education England to take the plans forward.  

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada told Pulse she was ‘over the moon' with the news, which comes after extensive and lengthy lobbying by the College, but added that in reality the work to put the plans into action would start now.

This will include the challenge of ensuring that the project is financially viable, with the plans yet to be approved by the Treasury.  The College will now hold further discussions with key stakeholders such as the BMA and the Department of Health on how to implement the plans.

GP specialty training is currently just three years in length and under existing regulations trainees only have to complete 12 months of general practice experience, although it is recommended that they complete 18 months. The UK has the shortest general practice training programme of 14 European countries, and the shortest of all UK medical specialities.

The RCGP has mooted the need for extended training, saying that while the length of training has stayed the same for the past 30 years, general practice continues to evolve with GPs facing the challenges of an ageing population with more complex health concerns. It also said the GP's role is expanding, with increased public health promotion and commissioning responsibilities.

The DH invited the RCGP to submit a case to Medical Education England for an extension of specific specialty training for general practice after it was recommended in the 2008 Tooke Report on the Independent Inquiry into Modernising Medical Careers.

The RCGP is proposing the introduction of an integrated four-year enhanced GP training programme, covering the breadth of general practice with extra focus on the key clinical, generalist and leadership skills they believe GPs will face in future.

Dr Gerada said: ‘I am absolutely over the moon. Clearly there is a long way to go yet but I am absolutely delighted that we have got approval from the highest education body in England. The work really starts now. It's like building a house – now we have planning permission.'