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To avoid GP crisis medical schools must address how profession is valued, report says

14 November 2016

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A Health Education England (HEE) report into medical education has examined why general practice is viewed as a less successful career choice than secondary care.

With the Medical Schools Council, HEE commissioned Professor Val Wass OBE to investigate how general practice is taught in medical schools.

The report ‘By choice – not by chance’ highlights the need to tackle long-held views about general practice, which is often perceived as a less valued career.

It emphasises that change is key to making sure we have the GP workforce required to meet service and patient demands for the future.

The report put forward a number of recommendations for consideration, including an urgent review of the current funding systems for undergraduate teaching.

The need to develop and promote awareness and understanding of general practice in primary and secondary schools was also emphasised.

It was recommended that medical school improve access to the quality of work experience in general practice for prospective medical students, in line with the opportunities available in secondary care.

The General Medical Council should work with all medical schools to revise their undergraduate curricula, the report said.

HEE said: “We are committed to helping to change the perception of GP as a career choice and welcome this informative report and the challenges it sets for the system.”

Responding to the Wass report Harrison Carter, BMA medical school committee co-chair, said:

“General practice is under unprecedented strain from a combination of factors including rising patient demand, falling resources and, crucially, staff shortages. As many as a third of GPs told a recent BMA survey they were considering retiring early and just as importantly there is an endemic problem of too few medical graduates choosing general practice as a career option.
“A key problem is that General Practice is not given adequate prominence in the medical curriculum and it is encouraging that this report recommends that this problem is addressed.  However, it is also right not hide the fact that one of the solutions to this problem is to address the funding crisis which many GPs say is having a real impact on the service that they can provide for their patients. A comprehensive approach to solving the current crisis is the only way that more medical graduates will be encouraged into general practice.”