Research Article

Training for general practice: a national survey.

BMJ 1990; 300 doi: (Published 07 April 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;300:911
  1. H S Crawley,
  2. J B Levin
  1. Department of Applied Statistics, University of Reading.


    OBJECTIVES--(a) To compare current vocational training in general practice with that ascertained by a survey in 1980; (b) to compare the training of trainees in formal training schemes with that of trainees arranging their own hospital and general practice posts. DESIGN--National questionnaire survey of United Kingdom and armed services trainees who were in a training practice on 1 April 1989. Questionnaires were distributed by course organisers. SETTING--Research project set up after an ad hoc meeting of trainees at the 1988 national trainee conference. SUBJECTS--2132 Of the 2281 trainees (93%) known to be in a training practice on 1 April 1989. RESULTS--1657 Trainees returned the questionnaires, representing 73% of all trainees known to be in a training practice on 1 April 1989. Between 1980 and 1989 there were significant improvements in the trainee year, and there was also evidence of improvements in general practice study release courses. There was no evidence of improvement in other aspects of training. General practice trainees spent an average of three years in junior hospital posts, which provided very little opportunity for study related to general practice. Training received during tenure of hospital posts differed significantly between trainees in formal schemes and those arranging their own hospital posts. During the trainee year training was almost the same for those in formal schemes and those arranging their own posts. Regions varied significantly in virtually all aspects of general practice training. CONCLUSIONS--The trainee year could be improved further by enforcing the guidelines of the Joint Committee on Postgraduate Training for General Practice. The poor training in junior hospital posts reflected the low priority that training is generally given during tenure of these posts. A higher proportion of general practice trainees should be attached to vocational training schemes. More hospital trainees could attend general practice study release courses if these were designed specifically with the needs of hospital doctors in mind.