The GMC has said it will back plans put forward by the BMA to include GPs on the specialist register for the very first time.
Moves to create a single register of specialists that includes GPs would be supported by the GMC, chief executive Charlie Massey announced today.
BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul strongly welcomed the move adding that a single register would finally ensure parity of professional recognition for general practice.
He urged ministers in all UK home nations to embrace the GMC’s willingness to engage in discussions to explore and develop the proposals further.
He said: ‘This is an important recognition by the GMC of the central place and importance of GPs to the NHS and follows strong pressure to do so from the BMA and Royal College of GPs.
‘Placing GPs on the specialist register would make their expertise clearer and put them on a deserved equal footing with other specialists, such as hospital consultants.
‘This is the right step at a time when GPs are working harder than ever before, delivering more care to patients who are living with increasingly complex problems.
'This difficult job is being carried out despite the incredible pressure on general practice from rising workload and contracting budgets.
‘The [UK] Government should now follow the GMC’s lead and listen to the case made by the BMA by amending the Medical Act so GPs get the recognition they deserve.’
Since 1 April 2006, all GPs working in the health service, including locums, are required to be registered on the GP register, while a separate specialist register for consultants has been in existence since 1997.
The distinction between the registers has been a source of concern for many GPs, who feel that not being included on the specialist register potentially diminishes their training and expertise in the eyes of patients.
The issue was the subject of a motion that was supported at the annual representative meeting in Belfast last June, and was followed by a joint statement by the BMA and RCGP in August, calling for general practice to be recognised as a specialty.
Designating GPs as specialists was also a recommendation included in a report published last November by Health Education England and the Medical Schools Council as a way of encouraging recruitment into general practice.
GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said his organisation had been persuaded by the case put forward by the BMA and RCGP that general practice be recognised as a medical specialty in its own right.
He said: ‘GPs make a huge and vital contribution to healthcare in the UK, providing expert care and treatment to millions of patients every year.
'We accept the recent arguments made by the BMA and RCGP that a single advanced register – for specialists and GPs – would make this expertise much clearer.
‘We have told the BMA and RCGP that we would positively consider a request from all four to explore and develop this proposal further – perhaps as part of the wider reforms to the regulation of UK healthcare professionals which we expect the Department of Health to consult on shortly in partnership with the devolved administrations.’
He added: ‘Making such a change would support our work to make the entire medical register more helpful and informative for the millions of patients, employers and doctors who use it every year.’
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