Intended for healthcare professionals


RCGP wins bid to extend GP training to four years

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 20 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2879
  1. Helen Jaques, news reporter
  1. 1BMJ Careers
  1. hjaques{at}

The Royal College of General Practitioners has been successful in its bid to increase the length of GP training from three years to four years from 2014.

The proposals presented to the Medical Programme Board this week suggest increasing the amount of time GP trainees spend in general practice placements from 12 months to 24 months. Trainees should spend the other 24 months of training in placements in secondary care, community care, and general practice.

Chair of the college Clare Gerada has said she is “absolutely thrilled” with the outcome of the bid, describing Wednesday as “a momentous day, not just for general practice, but for the entire medical profession and, most importantly, for our patients.”

“GPs are facing the challenges of an ageing population, with multiple, complex comorbidities, and our training needs to develop to reflect that,” she said. “This fantastic first step will ensure the future proofing of general practice for generations to come.”

The educational case made by the college sets out plans to update and modify the curriculum to ensure all training placements are as relevant to a modern GP’s role as possible.

The enhanced training programme will focus on providing trainees with basic skills in three priority areas—clinical, generalist, and leadership—and on teaching trainees how to apply these skills in a primary care setting.

The first two years of training will focus on providing trainees with basic skills via a range of relevant training placements in primary care, secondary care, and community care. All trainees will be expected to spend some time in placements that include exposure to child health and mental health problems.

In the third year trainees will concentrate on integrating knowledge and skills in a suitably supervised general practice placement, whereas the fourth year will focus on teaching trainees how to apply the skills they have acquired to supporting practice and service improvement. It is expected that years three and four would be spent predominantly in primary care.

In the fourth year GP trainees will also be expected to complete an externally assessed quality improvement project to demonstrate acquisition of more complex, system level clinical, generalist, and leadership skills and the ability to apply these skills to improve services.

Both the membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners and the certificate of completion of training (CCT) will be awarded at the end of year four of training, following successful completion of all the required assessments and training placements.

The college’s proposals will go to Medical Education England in September for approval and then to the Department of Health for a detailed implementation and affordability planning phase, which will take at least six months, and to the relevant minister for a final decision.

The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee has welcomed the introduction of four year training for GPs and has lent its support to the RCGP’s proposals.

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