Exclusive: Green issues to be included in 2011 RCGP exam

GPs could soon be required to tell patients about the environmental, as well as health, benefits of using a bike instead of a car, the RCGP has said.

Dr Ballard: 'The RCGP has had its first meeting to start making plans about how sustainability will be reflected' (Photograph: UNP)
Dr Ballard: 'The RCGP has had its first meeting to start making plans about how sustainability will be reflected' (Photograph: UNP)

The college is looking to integrate sustainability issues into the curriculum next year. RCGP sustainability lead Dr Tim Ballard said the theme will be integrated throughout the curriculum, rather than as a stand alone chapter.

'The RCGP has had its first meeting to start making plans about how sustainability will be reflected,' he said. 'The direction of travel is really positive.'

Dr Ballard said the RCGP is planning to submit the revised curriculum to the GMC next year, with a view to introducing it in August 2011.

Dr Charlotte Tulinius, RCGP medical director of curriculum, said the new curriculum will focus on how GPs can professionally support sustainability.

'We all have an obligation to support this (sustainability) agenda, but in the curriculum it will be included in a way that is specific to the GP profession,' she said.

'What does sustainability mean in general practice and how can it be integrated as a natural part of a GP's work?'

Dr Tulinius said there are 'two issues' within the agenda. 'One is about GPs' awareness of the impact that climate change has on health; another is the awareness of how both patients and doctors can support the sustainability agenda,' she said.

'GPs can set up and maintain a surgery in an environmentally friendly way, and for some patients it might be important that their GP reminds them of how good it is to take a bike instead of the car, for the environment and for their waist measure.'

Dr Ballard also said a website allowing practices to create a 'green buying scheme', where they procure green products from specialist companies, will be created.

'The aim is to link practices to organisations who can procure green stationery, and specialist practice consumables. By putting practices in touch with each other in a buying scheme it would create economies of scale,' he said.

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