Following a meeting with the RCGP yesterday, MEE - an independent body which provides advice on education, training and workforce planning for doctors - approved the educational case for extended and enhanced GP training.
MEE will now write formally to the DH to say it supports the RCGP educational case for change.
The RCGP will continue to work with partners and key stakeholders to produce workable and affordable plans to implement the enhanced programme.
The RCGP wrote to MEE in April, calling for GP training to be extended to four years. The college argued that the GP training programme should cover the breadth of general practice with ‘extra focus on the key clinical, generalist and leadership skills that the GPs of the future will require’.
The GP curriculum and examination system will be enhanced and modified to accommodate the new system of training, a change the RCGP believes will help to develop GPs fit for the future NHS.
Under the recommendations, the Certificate of Completion of Training and MRCGP qualification will be awarded at the end of year four, on successful completion of the training, after which the doctor will be licensed for independent practice as a GP.
RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: ‘This is a historic day for our patients and our profession. We are delighted at the result and thank MEE for the unanimous support in getting this through.
'We are thrilled that the RCGP's proposals for an enhanced and extended four-year training programme have been accepted, proving the educational need for change. We would like to thank colleagues in COGPED, the GPC, our fellow medical royal colleges and others for backing us throughout.
'This is a crucial stage in a long process and the RCGP will now continue to work with our partners and key stakeholders to produce workable and affordable plans to implement the enhanced programme.
‘This involves close collaboration with the three devolved nations to ensure that proposals for a new training programme are deliverable UK-wide.
‘The plans for affordability and implementation will need to be approved by the DH in England, and the new curriculum and assessment system by the GMC. We look forward to continuing this very important work for our patients and the GPs of the future.'
Managing director of MEE Christine Outram said: ‘The MEE board was asked to look solely at the educational case for change and found that the case was well made.
‘Other issues, such as the economic case, wider affordability and UK-wide implementation, for example, still need to be considered.'
A DH spokeswoman said: 'We want GPs to have the best possible training and we will examine the Medical Education England Board's recommendations carefully. Any decisions on an extension must be made by all four UK health departments. Work is already underway in England to consider the economic issues of an extension.'