General practice must be given more prominence in the medical curriculum and GPs given the funding they need if the crisis in primary care is to be addressed.
That is the warning from BMA medical students committee co-chair Harrison Carter, as an NHS report looking at improving the student experience of general practice in medical schools calls for a ‘system-wide approach’ to tackling the problem.
The report, By Choice – Not by Chance, which was commissioned by Health Education England and the Medical Schools Council, said long-held views such as general practice being a less desirable career choice needed to be challenged.
The report’s recommendations include conducting an urgent review of the funding systems, processes and guidance for distributing money for undergraduate teaching and promoting awareness of general practice to school pupils.
The BMA has long campaigned for increased funding to general practice to help deal with the dramatic increase in demand on services and increasing complexity of patients’ illnesses.
Mr Carter 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 to 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.’
Read By Choice – Not by Chance
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