Exclusive: GMC open to merging GP and specialist registers

The GMC is considering merging the GP and specialist registers into a consolidated 'senior register' that would give GPs equal status with doctors in secondary care, its chief executive has told GPonline.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson

The regulator said there were 'attractions' in merging the registers, but warned any such changes would require a change in the law, which is likely to be a ‘few years’ away.

It is currently seeking to add a raft of extra information such as photographs, further qualifications, practice location and competing professional interests to the existing registers.

Unifying the lists would ensure general practice is officially and internationally recognised as a medical specialty in the UK, as it is in most EU nations and in the US, Australia and Canada.

Speaking last week at a King's Fund event, RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said the RCGP and GPC had submitted proposals to the GMC calling for the lists to be merged.

She added that initial discussions with the GMC suggested that both sides saw ‘no reason’ why the lists could not eventually be merged.

She said: ‘The RCGP [submitted] a paper on unifying the list so we have one specialty list which would be the same for GPs and specialists – and therefore formally and internationally recognise GPs as specialists.

GMC register

‘That was accepted by council, it was accepted by GPC, we now have a formal joint RCGP/GPC position that this should be the case.

‘It’s been taken to UEMO (the European Union of General Practitioners) and we in the RCGP are having discussions with the GMC, as indeed are the BMA.

‘My understanding is that GMC accept the position and I see no reason why we can't move down along that route.’

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘Both the GP register and specialist register provide assurance that a doctor has achieved the high standards required to practise as a senior doctor.

‘But we agree they are of limited value which is why we are so keen that the doctor’s current scope of practice should appear on the register. This would set out what the doctor does now rather than just what qualification they achieved some years ago.

‘Creating a single "senior" register recognising all doctors who have reached that level does have attractions but it would require a change in the law and that change is likely to take a few years.’

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