The GMC said GPs make ‘a huge and vital contribution to healthcare in the UK’, adding that it accepted arguments from the GPC and RCGP that including all doctors on a single register would more clearly recognise the profession's expertise.
GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said that amendments must first be made to the Medical Act to enable the GMC to make any changes to the register.
Should this be sanctioned by the four UK governments, the GMC would ‘positively consider’ plans to merge the GP and specialist registers, he confirmed.
Mr Massey said: ‘GPs make a huge and vital contribution to healthcare in the UK, providing expert care and treatment to millions of patients every year.
‘We accept the recent arguments made by the BMA and RCGP that a single advanced register – for both specialists and GPs – would make this expertise much clearer.
‘Making such a change would support our work to make the entire medical register more helpful and informative for the millions of patients, employers and doctors who use it every year.
‘We have told the BMA and RCGP that we would positively consider a request from all four to explore and develop this proposal further – perhaps as part of the wider reforms to the regulation of UK health care professionals which we expect the DH to consult on shortly in partnership with the devolved administrations.’
GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘This is an important recognition by the GMC of the central place and importance of GPs to the NHS and follows strong pressure to do so from both the BMA and the RCGP.
‘Placing GPs on the specialist register would make their expertise clearer and put them on a deserved equal footing with other specialists, such as hospital consultants. This is the right step at a time when GPs are working harder than ever before, delivering more care to patients who are living with increasingly complex problems.
‘This difficult job is being carried out despite the incredible pressure on general practice from rising workload and contracting budgets.
‘The government should now follow the GMC’s lead and listen to the case made by the BMA by amending the Medical Act so that GPs get the recognition they deserve.’