GPs 'To Join Specialist Register'

Anna Sayburn

October 25, 2019

LIVERPOOL - The days of GPs and specialists being registered separately by the General Medical Council (GMC) may be over. The chairs of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the GMC, as well as Health Secretary Matt Hancock, told delegates at the RCGP annual conference in Liverpool that they would like to see a single register for all fully-qualified doctors. 

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, outgoing RCGP chair,  was the first to mention the initiative, saying that this was a change that could take time, but which the college backed. "We have persuaded the GMC and BMA to sign up to a statement that GPs are specialists," she said.

'Expert Generalists'

Dame Clare Marx, chair of the GMC, returned to the theme in her presentation. "Both the BMA and the Royal Colleges recognise that GPs are expert generalists," she told delegates. "Even so there are two separate registers, one so-called specialist one and one for general practice. This means your expertise is often not recognised."

She criticised "old fashioned snobbery about GP training" and pledged that the GMC would "look at bringing everybody together on a single register" to make "crystal clear the parity" between the two branches of the profession.

Speaking after Dame Clare Marx, Health Secretary Matt Hancock returned to the theme. "Structure also means addressing the outdated practice preventing GPs from being listed on the GMC specialist register – it's not right and we want to work with [the] GMC to change this and include GPs on the specialist register at the earliest opportunity," he said.

But Huddersfield GP Dr Shanthakumar Rasakumaran said afterwards that the move, intended to reduce disparity of esteem between the branches of the profession, would make little difference without a change in attitude.

"What makes a difference is when you go to the ward as a GP trainee [on a hospital rotation] and you get treated with respect. That's far more valuable," he said.

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