Switching to GP Training

Switching Specialty & Retraining

Changes in the NHS over recent years, (outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan) especially in light of the pandemic, means that the focus is increasingly on population health, primary and community care services. So it may not come as a great surprise to learn that we’re receiving many more applications from trainees in other specialties, trust grade doctors and consultants, who want to build on their skills and experience, learn to adapt and become a GP. 

You may have reached the stage in your career you like the thought of not just concentrating on one pathology - where you can get to know your patients personally, people refer to you as ‘my doctor’, look beyond illness to lifestyle and want to maximise the balance of variety and specialisation. The RCGP points out that the role includes diagnosing a wide range of undifferentiated health problems, treating illness in community and home settings, responding to risk safely and effectively, managing long-term conditions and co-ordinating care with a range of carers, specialists, providers and other professionals. 

Your questions answered

We understand that it is not so easy to find information when you have moved on from the normal training cycle so we have provided answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and some examples from people who made the change.

You will find a range of useful information in the applicant guidance and recruitment round dates on the Recruitment section of the website. All applicants will need to apply through the Oriel recruitment portal. There are currently 3 application rounds a year.

Good news is there’s no cap on the age you can apply for GP specialty training - which would be unlawful. In fact life and your previous experience is likely to be a bonus in practice.

How you get back into training when you’re possibly some years away from a ‘hands on’ medical role is inevitably not going to be quite as straight forward but don’t let that put you off. Its best to get in touch with us and discuss your circumstances, either by reaching out to your local office/Deanery or emailing the GPNRO applications team for advice. We can work with you to find out what options might be best suited to you and help satisfy the GP specialty training criteria outlined in the Applicant Guidance . Take the current F2 standalone scheme, as an example which will be a good option for some to gain experience and achieve foundation competences.

The competency based selection process allows applicants to demonstrate their abilities and suitability for GP training.

There are a number of selection centres based across the country. Dates and locations are posted on the Recruitment section of website.

Candidates work through three, 10 minute scenarios known as objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE). These are friendly non-intrusive observations using role play scenarios with a patient, colleague, carer or a relative for example, with a written exercise to assess prioritisation skills. The exercises test four main areas around communication skills, conceptual thinking and problem solving, empathy and sensitivity and professional integrity. There is more information in the 'Guidance for Applicants' with sample questions available online.

If you have a current National Training Number (NTN), have completed at least a year in one of the approved specialty training schemes and progressed satisfactorily, it may be possible to reduce your GP training time by 6 months under the Accreditation of Transferable Competences Framework (ATCF).

Specific eligibility criteria apply so if you are interested in this scheme, you can find more information and FAQs on the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), The Committee of General Practice Education Directors (COGPED) or The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) websites.

ATCF programmes cannot be applied for retrospectively so you must apply in your initial application to the GP training programme.

If you are not eligible for the ATCF programme, you may still be able to complete a shorter GP training programme through the CEGPR (Combined Programme) route.

The CEGPR (Combined Programme) is for trainees who wish to combine part of the CCT programme with posts held earlier in their career which were not approved for general practice training. These may be formal training posts or substantive paid roles.

To apply for the CEGPR (CP), make sure your Health Education England (HEE) local office or deanery are aware of your previous experience as soon as possible.  It may be possible to shorten the GP training programme by 6 – 12 months depending on the experience you submit for review. More information can be found on the RCGP website

This is possible in some regions of the UK but not all. It is recommended that you check first on the Recruitment Leads & Programme Details section of the website.

You will need to contact NHS Employers for advice or look at their FAQs.The latest terms and conditions are on the NHS Employers website please refer to pages 15 & 16 – Paragraph 49-52 under ‘Pay protection on re-entering training from a career grade.’

Anyone with continuous service in a career grade post or posts for at least 13 months immediately prior to re-entering training will be eligible for pay protection for as long as it is more favourable.

Once you have received advice from NHS Employers, it may be helpful to discuss options with your local Deanery.

Last updated May 2021

Switching to GP training - Case Studies

Dr Owen Carter
GP Partner in London, previously Adult Neurology
Dr Johnathan Cobb
Senior Partner in Yorkshire, previously ITU Registrar
Dr Chris Lutterodt
GP ST3 Surrey, previously Core Surgery

Dr Sarah Hillman
GP ST4 Coventry and Warwickshire, previously Academic Obstetrician
Dr Keith Gomes Pinto
GPST3 FMLM Medical Fellow, Data, Insights and Statistics Directorate NHS Digital, previously General Surgery
Dr Amina Al-Yassin
Dr Amina Al-Yassin, GP Registrar, London, previously a Paediatric trainee
Dr Pritti Aggarwal
GP flexi partner in Southampton, previously general surgery
Dr Murad Khan
GP in Yorkshire, previously an A&E and Cardiology doctor
Dr Elizabeth Meredith
GP in Hampshire, previously a Rheumatology Registrar

Dr Radhika Mistry
GP in West Midlands, previously a Gastroenterology Registrar
Dr Youssef Beaini
From the series GP behind closed doors, previously a cardiology doctor
Dr Judy Jackson
GP in London, previously a Consultant Psychiatrist
Dr Faraz Anjum
GP in Leicester, previously an Anaesthetics Registrar
Dr Yvonne Girgishanna
GP in Cambridge, previously a Renal Registrar
Dr Richard Carter
GP in South Yorkshire, previously an SpR in Respiratory & General Medicine

Dr Raghuram Shivram
GP Partner in Leicester, previously a Child & Adolescent Consultant Psychiatrist
  • Email gprecruitment@hee.nhs.uk if you want to talk to newly qualified or experienced GPs, trainees and trainers in your area with similar interests.