Guest Editorial - Why GP training should extend to four years

The college has started the long process we hope will result in extending GP training to four years.

It's hard to believe that while general practice has changed almost beyond recognition in the past 20 years and is facing enormous challenges such as the ageing population, the length of our training programme stays the same - shorter than other UK medical specialties and general practice training in 14 European countries.

In our submission to the Medical Programme Board of Medical Education England, we are recommending that the minimum training in all general practice programmes should be extended to 24 months.

Taking into account the 12 months that must be spent in 'posts in specialties approved by the GMC as relevant to general practice', and as directed by the Medical Act, this will leave a further 12 months that can be used flexibly by deaneries to create innovative, relevant GP training placements.

This extra year means the next generation of GPs would enter the profession armed with the skills necessary to meet the needs of a changing population and future challenges presented by the NHS. This is not the first time we have made our case but the fact that we are here again shows the strength of our commitment.

Neither are we giving up on our original aim of five years. Rather, our proposal of four years is a pragmatic solution for now.

If the board agrees, the implementation and affordability planning phase will involve the DH and relevant bodies. Then the bid will be put forward for ministerial approval.

General practice is changing and we will be doing our trainees - and our patients - a disservice if we do not acknowledge this and take action now.

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chairwoman recommends

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