Future healthcare needs more GPs, says RCGP report

More doctors of the future must be trained as generalists, a report commissioned by the RCGP has found.

Dr Gerada: 'The commission on generalism is one of the most important pieces of work that the college has ever been involved in' (Photograph: Haymarket Medical/Alex Deverill)
Dr Gerada: 'The commission on generalism is one of the most important pieces of work that the college has ever been involved in' (Photograph: Haymarket Medical/Alex Deverill)

A report commissioned by the RCGP and the Health Foundation, found that the work of generalists is ‘essential’ to healthcare and recommended that GP specialist training be extended from three to five years.

‘More of the most talented doctors must be encouraged to make careers as generalists rather than specialists,’ the report said.

GP Dr Clare Taylor, clinical lead of the first5 RCGP group of new GPs, said: 'This report highlights the essential role that generalism plays in providing high quality, sustainable health care now and for the future.’

A growing numbers of people are living with multiple long-term health conditions, the commission report said. These patients need a different balance of generalism and specialism in the medical profession.

The commission called for 'new model' in healthcare to provide care for patients who need more intensive support than they receive from existing systems. For example care homes should have dedicated GP services.

Baroness Finlay, the commission's chair, said the commission found that GPs need more specialist training.

‘The first point of contact for a sick child should be a GP with appropriate training, but only half of GPs have paediatric training.’

The commission called for the improved training of doctors in generalist skills, including the extension of GP specialist raining from three to five years and for GPs to use more technology to improve communication.

The commission urged those planning healthcare ‘to ensure people can access care and support when they need it, 24 hours seven days a week’.

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chairwoman, said: ‘The commission on generalism is one of the most important pieces of work that the college has ever been involved in.

‘This independent report raises questions about the concept of generalism and the role of the GP in today's health service, as well as making some important recommendations for developing, strengthening and promoting medical generalism to deliver effective patient care in the NHS of the future.’

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