Letters How to increase GP numbers

Medical schools must equip students with the flexibility needed for the health system’s future

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6959 (Published 25 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6959
  1. Iain Cameron, chair1
  1. 1Medical Schools Council, Woburn House, London WC1H 9HD, UK
  1. edward.knight{at}medschools.ac.uk

The Medical Schools Council (MSC) values medical schools’ autonomy over student selection, curriculums, and staffing.1 It is a complex combination of these and other issues, including role models and perceptions of how rewarding a career might be, that contributes to medical students’ career choices.

Doctors find specialties attractive or unattractive for many reasons.2 This is why recruitment strategies to medical school must recognise students’ diverse interests and aptitudes. Simon Stevens recently stated, “we need to tear up the design flaw in the 1948 NHS model where family doctors were organised separately from hospital specialists . . . GPs themselves say that in many parts of the country the corner shop model of primary care is past its use by date.”3 The Five Year Forward View emphasises flexibility, with doctors undertaking different roles as patients receive integrated care closer to home.4 This aligns with the General Medical Council’s Tomorrow’s Doctors, which requires graduates to have a broad foundation from which they can specialise later.

Priorities for MSC include ground breaking work on widening access,5 fitness to practise, assessment, and understanding the evidence base for selection to study medicine. MSC works with colleagues across the health and higher education sectors to select the best students to study medicine, so that high quality patient care can be provided as part of the present and future workforce, including general practice. Members of MSC head their respective medical schools, each of which has an education lead, several of whom are primary care physicians. Education teams drive admissions and selection, with input from a range of medical disciplines, including general practice, and the public.

GPs play a central role in the medical workforce. MSC will continue to play its part, working with Health Education England and others to inspire students to value and select generalism.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6959


  • Competing interests: I am chair of the Medical Schools Council, dean of the faculty of medicine, University of Southampton, and a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.

  • Full response at: www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6245/rr/778951.


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