The RCGP has succeeded in its bid to persuade the Medical Programme Board to extend GP training to four years, following a crunch meeting with officials today.
The plans for a fourth year of training still need formal sign off from Medical Education England, and financial approval from the Treasury - but RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said she was optimistic that four-year training would begin from 2014, with the possibility of early adopters before then.
Dr Gerada hailed a 'momentous day for general practice' and said the RCGP had cleared ‘the major hurdle' in the process after the Medical Programme Board unanimously backed its the educational case for the extension of GP training in England.
She said the College's focus would now be on the practicalities of implementation, including how the changes would be funded.
The College's proposals have yet to receive sign-off by education boards in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Dr Gerada said she was hopeful of a positive decision from the devolved nations in the next few weeks.
Dr Gerada said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled that our educational case for extending and enhancing GP training has been accepted. We were really confident that we had an exceptionally strong, evidence-based case and the decision by the Medical Programme Board backs this up.'
‘This is a momentous day, not just for general practice, but for the entire medical profession and, most importantly, for our patients. It is the beginning of a long road that will see general practice training evolve to meet the changes that are already taking place in our practices and communities.
'There are still hoops to go through, but the major hurdle was getting the educational case made.'
Medical Education England confirmed the Medical Programme Board had agreed that the RCGP bid should proceed to the next stage - but stressed that affordability had yet to be considered.
Professor David Sowden, director of medical education (England) at the Department of Health, and co-chair of the Medical Programme Board, said: 'The Medical Programme Board agreed that a good educational case had been made for enhanced and extended GP training.'