All health professionals working in secondary care should spend ‘at least’ a year working in general practice as part of their training, the BMA and RCGP have said.
This would help to address ‘inappropriate workload transfer’ from secondary care to GPs, BMA GP Committee England deputy chair Dr Kieran Sharrock said.
As well as increasing understanding of the challenges faced by general practice, it would also help alleviate the GP workforce crisis, he added.
The comments came during an evidence session held today for the health and social care committee’s inquiry into the future of general practice, led by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Dr Sharrock told MPs: ‘One of the biggest issues that [GPs] face is inappropriate workload transfer from secondary care to primary care.
‘And one of the ways to deal with that is to make it so that everyone who works as a doctor or nurse or any other health professional in secondary care settings has spent a good portion of time working in general practice so they understand the importance of that interface.’
He added: ‘I would encourage all health professionals to have to spend at least a year working in general practice so they understand it. The other advantage of that is you suddenly get a workforce that’s coming to work for you for a year.’
Also speaking at the evidence session, RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall told MPs that he agreed with Dr Sharrock and that ‘better working at the interface’ between primary and secondary care is ‘really important’.
GP trainees are to spend 24 months out of their 36-month training period in general practice from this year, having previously spent half of their training working in hospitals.
Concerns over GP workload dumping from hospitals
Witnesses speaking at the evidence session also called for better support for general practice from the media and Government, with Dr Sharrock advising MPs to ‘develop a relationship’ with the LMC in their constituency to enable more productive discussions around GP access.
Dr Sharrock said that the RCGP, Health Foundation and the BMA ‘do not support bad practice or bad access’.
He said: ‘If there is one particular surgery that causes you an issue, the people to take that up with are your local medical committees. They have a good relationship with practices and they will be able to go in and have a quiet word. The practice won’t feel like they’re being collared if the LMC is spoken to.
‘As MPs, I’m encouraging you to develop a relationship with your LMC. And then you can say, “Well, I’ve got an issue with this practice. Can you tell me what the issue is there?” And that LMC has a soft intelligence about why that practice is struggling, or they can say “Well actually, they shouldn’t be struggling, so I’m going to have a word with them and try and change things and work with them.”’
He added: ‘If you speak to a CCG or CQC it will feel much more like a hammer to crack a nut. LMCs are the friends of practices and they can be the go-between.’
Mr Hunt is also leading an inquiry into NHS workforce recruitment, training and retention, looking at whether the training period for doctors could be reduced, and if the cap on medical places for students could be permanently removed.