GP Training and Development Opportunities to Support Primary Care Transformation in NHS Scotland

NHS Scotland
24 Jun 2019
31 Aug 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

GP Training and Development Opportunities to Support Primary Care Transformation in NHS Scotland


In this second article on primary care reform in Scotland, we describe the opportunities available for educating and training our future GPs. We have set ourselves an ambitious target to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over the next decade. Offering quality training experiences to support sustainable and enjoyable GP careers is critical if we are to realise success. 

Medical School Training

The Scottish Government and the RCGP share a common goal, to increase the opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to experience the rich variety of Scotland’s integrated health and social care delivered at home, or as close to home as possible.  A number of universities offer longitudinal integrated clerkships where students are embedded in GP surgeries for a year, following their patients through the healthcare system. 

The Scottish Government is increasing medical school by 60 in 2019, with a further 25 places to be added in 2020. Initiatives to improve access to students from socially deprived backgrounds support Scotland’s philosophy of inclusivity – the SG has invested in 50 ring-fenced widening access places for undergraduate medicine and 2 pre-medical entry courses at Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities focussing on SIMD 20 and remote and rural applicants.  In addition, the new 4-year Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (ScotGEM) course has an innovative programme focussed on General Practice, rural working and healthcare improvement. Bursaries are available for students taking up rural GP placements.    

Foundation Training

The Scottish Foundation School strives to increase the experience of primary care within Foundation Training. 4-month GP placements are recognised as valuable learning environments, whether individuals wish to follow careers in primary or secondary care. Trainees report high satisfaction rates.


The Scottish Deanery offers a diverse and exciting range of General Practice Specialty Training (GPST) programmes throughout its four regions. They are packed with educational opportunities, both within the community and hospital environments; designed to support trainees through the steep learning curve at the start of general practice training and, later honing their skills to become independent GPs, our Expert Medical Generalists, equipped to deliver a wide range of complex care.  Innovative models of care in Scotland are developing, with multi disciplinary teams in our surgeries working together to care for our communities.  Bursaries are available for GPSTs taking up training in some rural locations.


NHS Scotland offers a wide variety of GP fellowships that enable a personalised approach to career development for GPs in the earlier stages of their working lives. Fellowships are offered in paediatrics, remote and rural, mental health, medical education, health inequalities, academia and quality improvement. The Deep End Pioneer Fellowships are based in the most concentrated areas of urban deprivation, whilst the Out of Hours (OOH) Development Fellowship provides OOH exposure with support for leadership development in areas of individual interest.  The Community GP Fellowship encourages service model innovation between primary and secondary care designed to support patients with complex needs closer to home.  Various Career Start programmes across the country provide the opportunity for GPs to develop special interests in wide ranging areas such as dermatology, palliative care, cardiology, elderly care and chronic pain. All fellowship posts come with protected educational time and study budgets.

Newly qualified GPs

We recognise the value of supporting early career GPs, particularly in the first 5 years after qualification when the pressures of being an independent practitioner can be keenly felt.  As well as offering the chance to develop portfolio careers through fellowships, newly qualified GPs in Scotland also benefit from paid membership to Practice Based Small Group Learning to support peer networking and education. There is a yearly national First 5 conference, and regular free CPD connect events, with First5 leads in each RCGP Scotland faculty.  Supporting and nurturing our colleagues from the beginning of their career right through to the end matters to us.  

Supporting Continuous Improvement throughout your Career as a GP

An inquisitive approach to education and quality improvement is encouraged.  NHS Education Scotland (NES), our education and training body, is deeply integrated into the fabric of Scottish health care.  Scotland is a leading force in the methodology of Quality Improvement and Service Co-Design, with the ambition of improved outcomes and healthcare experiences for patients and care providers.  Tailored education programmes (many funded) in patient safety, quality improvement and medical leadership are supported by Health Improvement Scotland. All GP practices are funded to undertake quality improvement activity with their peers in GP Clusters which contribute to the oversight and development of their local healthcare system.

GP training and development in Scotland is an exciting education and career journey with its roots deeply imbedded in the supporting and developing our GPs as the Expert Medical Generalist , with a diversity of career paths that reflects the richness of Scotland’s geography and the communities we serve.  Next month we will further discuss the varied opportunities available for working in NHS Scotland.

If you have any questions about the opportunities available or would like to discuss living and working as a GP in Scotland in more detail please do not hesitate to contact us:

Dr Charlie Siderfin
Tel: 07900 405964

Dr Amjad Khan
Director of Postgraduate General Practice Education
NHS Education for Scotland
Tel:  0131 656 3462

For more detailed information on the different roles, the education and training support that is available, an overview of the different Health Boards and regions of Scotland and a selection of jobs that are available please go to

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