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Hundreds of GPs to be forced to acquire additional qualifications

September 14th, 1994
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Myth: Hundreds of GPs (especially part-time women GPs) are to lose their jobs as from next January when a Brussels Directive aimed at harmonising standards of training for doctors comes into force, obliging them to have had the vocational training qualifications introduced in 1980 in addition to their medical qualifications. Part-time GPs who went into general practice before 1980 will therefore not be able to work for the NHS because they have not undergone the necessary vocational training.
Source: Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and The Times, following briefing from the British Medical Association (14th September 1994)

Response: This is not the case at all. Neither practicing GPs in the NHS nor part-time training for women need be affected by the Directive. This Directive*, agreed by Ministers in 1986, does indeed seek to ensure that all GPs working in national health schemes in the EC are vocationally trained as of 1.1.95; it also gave national governments an eight year period from 1986 to adapt their requirements to the vocational training obligations of GPs. Ultimately it would ensure that adequately trained British GPs are able to work in any other EC country, and vice-versa.

However there is nothing in the Directive which bans practicing GPs in the NHS from continuing to practice after this date (see Article 36). The Directive in fact requests national governments to make provisions to enable practicing NHS doctors to continue. In addition those GPs who are working in another EC country’s national health scheme as of next January can continue to work there.

Article 34 of the Directive specifically seeks to protect the principle of part-time training for GPs. If the government wants to cater for different categories of GPs in the NHS, it is therfore perfectly entitled to do so.

* – Directive 86/457/EEC now General Medical Practitioner Provisions in title IV of Directive 93/16/EEC

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