Enhanced and extended specialty training in general practice

GP training must evolve to reflect and accommodate changes in health care. The continued success of general practice will require more GPs, with more training, spending longer with their patients.

In September 2012 Medical Education England endorsed the decision made earlier that year at the Medical Programme Board, and supported the educational case for enhanced and extended GP training.

GP specialty training: background

Although the system of primary care in the UK is one of the most developed in Europe, information from EURACT showed that the duration of GP training in many other European countries with primary healthcare systems is longer than in the UK.

GP training is currently shorter than all other UK medical or surgical specialties, and less than half the duration of some of the specialties. But while the length of training has stayed the same, general practice continues to evolve.

General practice is facing the dual challenge of an ageing population with complex, multiple co-morbidities. The structural changes that the NHS is undergoing will demand much more of your average GP in terms of clinical, managerial and leadership skills. More and more patients will be treated outside of hospital, in their homes and communities.

RCGP recommendations

We are recommending that the minimum training time in all general practice programmes be extended to four years, with at least 24 months spent in primary care. This is not to question current training or the skills of existing trainees and recently qualified GPs: it’s about ensuring that GP training keeps up with the demands of an increasingly challenging and complex environment.

The extra year of dedicated general practice training will mean that the next generation of GPs is ready to meet the needs of a changing population, and the practical challenges that the NHS presents.


The EGPT Curriculum, Assessment and Delivery Support Group have proposed an educational model for enhancing and extending GP training in all four UK nations June 2013. Download the report (PDF file, 742 KB).

Latest update on Enhanced and Extended GP Training April 2013 (PDF file, 289 KB).

Enhancing GP Training in Scotland sets out educational case in Scottish context (June 2012). Read the Enhancing GP Training in Scotland briefing paper (PDF file, 905 KB).

Contact us

To share your views, on the future of GP specialty training, contact reviewofspecialtytraining@rcgp.org.uk.