The GMC will back a move to include GPs in a single advanced specialist register.
The RCGP and BMA launched a campaign last year for general practice to be counted as a medical specialty, and merge the two separate GMC lists for GPs and hospital doctors.
GP leaders say the move will allow GPs to work freely in other European countries, and would increase the standing of general practice and stop GPs from ’being second class citizens’ in medicine.
Charlie Massey, GMC chief executive and registrar said that the body would back the proposal.
Massey said: ‘The BMA and the RCGP have argued that a single advanced register for both specialists and GPs would make the entire medical register more helpful and informative for patients, employers and doctors.
’Expanding the specialist register to include general practice would require UK Parliament to update the Medical Act and the decision to make such a change rests with the four UK governments. We have told the BMA and the RCGP that we would positively consider a request from all four to explore and develop this proposal further.’
The merger of the two registers could become part of wider reforms to the regulation of UK health care professionals expected to be consulted on in the near future by the Department of Health.
The UK is one of only four states in Europe, alongside Austria, Switzerland and Italy, who do not recognise general practice as a ‘specialty’.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC chair, said: ’This is an important recognition by the GMC of the central place and importance of GPs to the NHS and follows strong pressure to do so from both the BMA and RCGPs.
’Placing GPs on the specialist register would make their expertise clearer and put them on a deserved equal footing with other specialists, such as hospital consultants. This is the right step at a time when GPs are working harder than ever before, delivering more care to patients who are living with increasingly complex problems. This difficult job is being carried out despite the incredible pressure on general practice from rising workload and contracting budgets.
’The Government should now follow the GMC’s lead and listen to the case made by the BMA by amending the Medical Act so that GPs get the recognition they deserve.’