London GP Dr Katie Coleman, who set up the petition, said the change would make GPs feel more valued at a time when the profession faces crisis and morale is low.
The GMC has previously told GPonline it would start work to merge the specialist and GP registers into one ‘senior register’ provided that the government amends the Medical Act to allow this to take place.
Both the RCGP and the GPC have endorsed the move, and called on the government to recognise GPs as specialists by merging the registers.
But the government put a halt on proceedings in January, revealing that it had no immediate plans to do this.
In not recognising GPs as specialists, the UK is something of an outlier – GPs are already afforded this status in 24 out of the 28 EU states, Australia, the US and Canada.
As of writing, Dr Coleman’s petition had received over 640 signatures. It must attract over 10,000 to receive a government response, and over 100,000 to be considered for debate in parliament. It has until 25 April 2018 to reach these targets.
Dr Coleman said: ‘As a GP for near on 20 years I have served my registered population and helped people to stay healthy and well.
‘I have distinct skills that enable me to take a helicopter view of the whole person and I have demonstrated my ability by taking a membership exam and becoming a fellow of the RCGP.
‘Yet, due to some archaic Medical Act of parliament I cannot be recognised as a specialist. Both the RCGP and the BMA have released statements recognising that this should be addressed – and the GMC would uphold this – but without parliament nothing can happen.
‘General practice is in a state of crisis, morale is low and I fundamentally believe that if we can make people feel valued then it could make a huge difference.’