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Revealed: RCGP plans to extend GP training to four years

All GP registrars would undertake placements in paediatrics and mental health under ‘pragmatic’ RCGP proposals to extend training to four years, but not five, Pulse can reveal.

A document describing the plans will be presented to the Medical Programme Board next month – despite GPC concerns they could create a new ‘sub-GP grade’.

The proposals recommend the fourth year should include placements in mental health and paediatrics in working environments including general practice, secondary care and the community.

The current timing of the applied knowledge test and clinical skills assessment would remain, but after the fourth year a new ‘quality improvement project’ would be added where GPs assessed how to improve a service.

The proposals mark a scaling back of RCGP ambitions after a bid to extend training by two years was rejected by the Medical Programme Board and Department of Health in 2010.

Earlier this year the GPC called proposals for a fourth year of training in practices from the Committee of GP Education Directors a ‘very dangerous precedent’ as salaried GPs would be undercut.

But the RCGP argued it would ‘not accept’ posts that were not genuinely developmental, and placements would be approved by the GMC.

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said: ‘We are going for four years to be pragmatic.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘We are more reassured than we were, but there is still a risk. The college is not in a position to provide guarantees – it is in the hands of deaneries and how they apply the arrangements.’