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DHSC: GP workforce will be boosted by fast-track courses for health professionals

Offering fast-track training for healthcare professionals to become doctors more quickly will boost the bid to grow the GP workforce, the Government has said.

The Government has officially announced plans to set up new courses that will allow nurses, pharmacists and paramedics to retrain as doctors in just three years.

The plans, which were trailed last month, will also see existing healthcare staff able to retrain as nurses more quickly.

The Government said leaving the EU means it can ‘take back control of the training our healthcare professionals receive’ and ‘boost’ its ongoing recruitment commitment for more GPs and nurses.

One of the Conservatives’ primary vows during December’s General Election was to deliver 6,000 more GPs and 50,000 additional nurses by 2025. 

The Government said the plans would also diversify the range of backgrounds of NHS workers, by fitting training around parenting or caring responsibilities.

The GMC’s Medical Licensing Assessment will continue to govern the standard of education. 

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Without being bound by EU regulations, we can focus on ensuring our workforce has the necessary training which is best suited to them and their experience, without ever compromising on our high standards of care or on patient safety.

‘The plans we are setting out today mean that we can retrain healthcare workers and get them back to the frontline faster.’

But BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We are absolutely clear that there is no safe substitute for the current five-year undergraduate or four-year graduate entry medical curriculum for students wanting to become our doctors of the future.

‘New doctors tell us that it is not possible to acquire the knowledge and skills any more quickly; shorter courses will not achieve what patients deserve.

‘We believe that training doctors in less time than we do now will compromise their education and reduce the quality and comprehensiveness of patient care.’

He added: ‘The BMA will work with the Government to reduce the impact of Brexit on our health services but it is vital that whoever is providing treatment as a medical professional has the right knowledge, skillset, and experience so that citizens of the UK do not receive poorer standards of care compared to those in other European nations.’

Last winter, UCAS showed that record numbers of students applied to study medicine at university.