Just over 50% of GPs think training should last for four or five years rather than the current three years, while 41% think trainees should spend more of their training in a general practice setting.
GPonline recently revealed that Health Education England (HEE) is in discussion with former BMA chair and London GP Sir Sam Everington over the possible development of a five-year GP training programme based entirely in primary care. Speaking at the time, Sir Sam said current GP training was ‘not fit for purpose’.
Of the 393 doctors who responded to GPonline's poll, 37% thought GP training should increase to four years, while 13% said it should be lengthened to five years.
However, when asked whether GP trainees should spend more than the current 18 months of their three-year training programme in a general practice setting 59% of GPs disagreed.
Some 37% said trainees should spend more of their training in general practice, but still spend some time in hospitals, while just 4% said GP training should be based entirely in general practice.
The RCGP believes that GP training should be extended to four years with at least 24 months spent in general practice.
Last year, HEE's 10-year workforce strategy revealed it was 'evaluating the case' for extending GP training to four years. Speaking at the time, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘This is something that the college has long been campaigning for and will undoubtedly make our new GPs of the future more confident as well as competent in managing the complexity that is modern day general practice.’
This view was relfected in GPonline's survey. One GP said: ‘I completed GP training last August. I did not feel that I was ready to start independent practice and wanted more experience. I also wanted more autonomy in training as there are specific areas I felt less confident or had more interest in - this would have helped with personal development but also helped direct future career.’
Another GP who said training should be extended pointed out: ‘Longer training might be beneficial to build up a larger experience base, not just clinically but in different practices too.’ One GP added: ‘No other speciality spends time outside it, why should GP spend half their training outside GP practice?’
However, many GPs didn’t see any reason to change the current training process, with one stating: ‘The current process has worked very well for me.’
Some also voiced concerns that the current workforce crisis simply does not allow for a longer training programme.‘We don't have the luxury of expanding training when we are so short of GPs,’ one GP said. Another added: ‘We need more GPs and we need them fast! Get them trained and send them through.’
Earlier this year, HEE said it had recruited a record number of trainees into general practice so far in 2018/19.