Pharmacists and paramedics could be retrained as doctors through a three-year course, under plans being drawn up by Government officials, according to reports.
The proposals would be possible following the UK’s exit from the European Union, because Britain would no longer have to comply with EU regulations stipulating doctors must complete medical degrees of five years.
The Times reported the Governement will say it is drawing up the plans because it wants to fast track training for healthcare professionals who want to progress without taking a long period out of their career.
The paper, which said it had seen the proposals by the Department of Health and Social Care, said the Government will also say the new training is necessary to improve NHS recruitment.
Doctor leaders said it was crucial the Government addressed the shortage of medical staff but warned there is ‘no substitute’ for the current five-year undergraduate degree training required to be a doctor.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair of the BMA, told Pulse: ‘We are desperately short of doctors in the UK and it’s important that the Government works to find a solution to this.
‘What must not be compromised, however, at any cost, is patient safety – anyone who is providing care as a medical professional must have the right knowledge, skillset, and experience.
‘Patients want to be seen by well-trained, highly skilled and compassionate doctors who can provide them with the best possible care, and reducing training time won’t achieve this.’
He said there is ‘no substitute’ for the current length of training programmes.
Dr Nagpaul added: ‘While Brexit will have a significant impact on our health and care services, one thing we must ensure is that the quality of medical education, training and patient care is of the highest standard.’
The measures are expected to be announced in full next week.
The Conservatives pledged to recruit 6,000 more GPs over the next five years as part of their election manifesto, although previous health secretary Jeremy Hunt failed to materialise similar promises.
Pharmacists have been granted additional powers recently. Last year, the DHSC issued its first serious shortage protocol to combat drug shortages, allowing them to change the formulation of the antidepressant fluoxetine on prescriptions, without consulting a GP.