Regaining our professional identity

by Malinga Ratwatte

GP trainees committee renames itself the GP registrars committee to avoid misleading patients and healthcare professionals

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 1 November 2023
Malinga Ratwatte

The medical profession is in the midst of significant upheaval. In the last year, doctors have come out in huge numbers to voice their dissatisfaction with the status quo, particularly reflected by the thundering mandates for industrial action which have been secured across many different branches of practice.

The pot has been simmering for years and it has now finally boiled over. Years of poorly thought out policy and underinvestment in the health service have led to circumstances which leave doctors no choice but to organise and take action.

As part of efforts to regain our professional identity and to move away from diminutive terms that can be misleading and confusing for patients and colleagues alike, the GP trainees committee has made the decision to rename itself the GP registrars committee.

This better reflects our roles as fully qualified medical doctors, many of whom will have several years of experience as doctors in general practice as well as other specialties prior to entering postgraduate training. Patients often perceive ‘trainees’ as students, and this is understandable as it may well be the case in other contexts, however, this is misleading within medicine.

GP registrars often can be senior clinicians within their teams and often become independent clinical decision makers at an early stage in training, particularly in the community
Dr Ratwatte

In the context of a health service that is increasingly seeing a number of new roles being introduced, semantics are important. We must seek to reduce patient confusion and there must be clarity for patients about the type of professional they are consulting with.

Recent tragic cases of patient death in the media have brought to the spotlight the distress that can be caused to patients and their families when such a lack of clarity in professional roles occur. GP registrars have serious concerns about the rapid expansion of medical associate professionals within general practice and we have published a joint position statement with the BMA junior doctors committee.

GPRC recognises the importance of continuing to support the campaign for full pay restoration as a foremost priority and call on GP registrars to stand together with their hospital colleagues to seek a reversal of the real-terms pay cuts that have been endured.

In addition to pay, we are looking to engage with stakeholders such as the Royal College of General Practitioners and Committee of GP Education Directors during our term to seek improvements to GP specialty training and to work on strategic areas which can be sources of difficulty for GP registrars.

General practice is the bedrock of the NHS and registrars are the future of general practice. We owe it to ourselves and the generations that come after us to ensure that our voice is heard loud and clear and that the legacy of general practice is protected into the future. We will strive to achieve this over the coming year and look forward to representing the voice of GP registrars across the four nations.


Malinga Ratwatte is chair of the GP registrars committee