Brexit will stop GPs joining specialist medical register 'for years'

Brexit negotiations mean that GPs could be waiting years before they are included on the specialist medical register, the RCGP chair has said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard (Photo: Pete Hill)
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard (Photo: Pete Hill)

The BMA and RCGP have repeatedly called for the specialist and generalist lists to be merged - and the GMC has backed the idea of creating a single ‘senior’ register. But Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said that such a legislative change ‘can’t go anywhere in the short term’.

Speaking at a King’s Fund conference in London, the RCGP chair said: ‘The sad reality - the harsh reality - is that we require legislative change to do it, and with the minor matter of Brexit going on there is no space to even think about it until a year or two post-Brexit.’

The UK's planned two-year-long departure from the European Union is set to conclude in March 2019 - meaning that issues surrounding the specialist register won’t be addressed until 2020 at the earliest.

This comes just months after a joint statement from the RCGP and the BMA warned that a failure to expand the specialist medical register to include GPs could hold back medical students and junior doctors from pursuing careers in general practice.

Equal status

For GPs formally to be given equal status to consultants, the DHSC and its equivalents in devolved nations must first agree to reform the Medical Act.

Professor Stokes-Lampard added that, although ‘general practice is a CCT qualification’ and  ‘every new GP qualifies as a consultant in general practice’, now is ‘not quite the right time’ to push for changes to the list.

‘It’s on the agenda, it’s very clearly stated, but we’re not going to waste too much time pushing for that right now because we think it can’t go anywhere in the short term,’ she said. ‘The register is merely a vehicle for recording that we are competent and safe and so on. It’s how we use what we’ve got at the moment that is important.’

In January 2017 the DHSC said it had ‘no immediate plans’ to make any changes to the specialist register.

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