Doctors' leaders join forces with GMC to demand specialist recognition for GPs

BMA and RCGP leaders have linked up with the GMC to ramp up pressure on the government to include GPs on the specialist medical register.

Parliament must legislate over GP specialist status (Photo: Vladislav Zolotov)
Parliament must legislate over GP specialist status (Photo: Vladislav Zolotov)

In a joint statement published yesterday, the BMA, RCGP and GMC repeated calls for the specialist and GP lists to be merged, creating a single advanced medical register.

The organisations argued that the change, which would give GPs equal status to consultants, would make clinicians’ expertise ‘much clearer’ and simplify the register. This, they said, would make the register ‘more helpful and informative for patients, employers and doctors’.

Publishing a letter on the RCGP website, the group wrote: ‘GP specialty training is an intellectually rigorous medical training programme, which enables doctors to gain the skills and experience required to make a huge and vital contribution to healthcare in the UK, providing expert care and treatment to millions of patients.

Specialist status

‘The RCGP and BMA therefore continue to call for the Medical Act to be changed at the earliest opportunity. The GMC supports these proposals,’ they added.

The organisations last called for the UK governments to recognise GPs as medical specialists in June 2018, when the BMA and RCGP argued that giving GPs equal status to consultants could help to alleviate workforce problems.

They warned that the failure to expand the specialist register was 'holding back medical students and junior doctors' from pursuing careers in general practice.

At present, GPs are not recognised as specialists in the UK once they have qualified, despite the fact that they are required to complete a minimum of three years specialty training, and despite most European countries recognising general practice as a specialist medical role.

Brexit delay

GP leaders fear political turmoil linked to Brexit could delay legislation required to overhaul the GMC register, however. RCGP chair Helen Stokes-Lampard predicted last June that Brexit negotiations could result in GPs waiting years before they were included on the specialist medical register.

Asked about the progress of work to recognise GPs as specialists, a DHSC spokesperson said: 'GPs are the bedrock of the NHS and we recognise the vital role they play in delivering patient care.

'The standards they are held to and the quality of their training is no less rigorous than doctors on the GMC’s specialist register.'

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