Intended for healthcare professionals


GP bashing is unacceptable, says Health Education England

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 02 December 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6028
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

The denigration of general practice by other medical specialties must be recognised as unacceptable, Health Education England (HEE) has said.

HEE published a report on students’ experiences of general practice while at medical school on Tuesday 8 November.1 The report was the work of a taskforce, chaired by Val Wass, emeritus professor of medical education at Keele University, which investigated how general practice was taught in medical schools.

The report found that students experienced an uncomfortable divide between primary and secondary care “across which they meet unfortunate professional tribalism leading them to perceive primary care of ‘lower status.’” It said, “This must now be addressed as unacceptable. What may sometimes be said in jest does, we learnt, impact on student choice. Work to challenge professional denigration is essential.”

The report said that there was “anti-GP rhetoric” in medical schools. “The profession must acknowledge that this very entrenched practice can impact negatively on students weighing career options,” it said. “Ingrained yet erroneous belief must be challenged.”

However, the report also said that GPs bashed their own specialty. “Students on placements experienced the stresses that general practitioners were facing in their daily work and, in some instances, were actively discouraged by them from entering primary care,” it said.

It said that any change to curriculum or medical school action would not succeed unless “this professional negativism is improved, general practice is accepted as a specialty in its own right, and the academic profile of general practice is strengthened.”

The authors of the report made several recommendations for improving the position of general practice in medical schools. These included an urgent review of the current systems for distributing money for undergraduate teaching, greater interaction between medical schools and local schools, and improved access to work experience in general practice for prospective medical students.

Rapid responses to this article

Jose Ponte has responded to this article. See “GP bashing?”