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The doctor of the future is a generalist

21 July 2020

Health Education England (HEE) has been engaging with the system to develop our understanding of what the doctor of the future should look like. The Covid-19 global pandemic brought into sharp focus how crucial generalist skills are in enabling doctors to manage complex patient care across  different specialties.

HEE’s Future Doctor report published today sets out a vision for future clinical teams and how education and training can evolve so that our future doctors are equipped with the right skills to deliver care in an ever-changing health care landscape.

This vision for the future doctor outlines how we can reform medical education so doctors better understand population needs, develop generalist skills and work effectively in a multi-professional teams.

Sheona MacLeod, Acting Director of Education and Quality and Executive Medical Director, said:

“Having worked with patients and stakeholders to develop our vision for future doctors, we experienced the unprecedented pressure that the Covid-19 pandemic put on the NHS. As the system worked to made rapid changes, we saw that the workforce could become more flexible, responsive, empowered and motivated. The system wide collaborations that developed can now help deliver a vision for the Future so doctors with generalist skills are supported to adapt healthcare provision to meet their population needs, and work effectively in multi-professional teams in an increasingly complex healthcare landscape”

Sue Carr, Deputy Medical Director for the General Medical Council said:

‘Medicine is a field of constant transformation and, as the past six months have shown, we must be ready for anything.

‘Strong team working, life-long learning, and empowered patients are rightly the focus of HEE’s Future Doctors vision, which we’re keen to reflect in doctors’ education and training.

‘It will be important to take on these lessons as we begin recovery from the pandemic, and we are keen to work with educational bodies across the four nations to identify how we can embed these in medical education.’

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:

“We know that healthcare has always evolved, sometimes rapidly as witnessed in this recent pandemic. The next generation of medical professionals will need to be trained to adapt and meet the needs of the future, whatever they may turn out to be.

“It is right that there is emphasis on the role of the doctor as a local leader as part of the multi-professional team, firmly rooted in the community, with the breadth of skills to be able to respond flexibly to changes and future challenges in healthcare delivery.

“As we look to the longer term future of our services, employers look forward to working with HEE and other partners to make sure the UK is able to attract and educate doctors with the right skills and attitude to tackle the challenges of an ever-changing healthcare landscape. In particular, we look forward to actions to ensure sufficient availability of doctors in all parts of the English NHS.

The future doctor will need to demonstrate respect and understanding for other multi-professional team members and will be fluent in leading, and following, as effective team players. The Future Doctor will be able to put patients firmly front and centre of care. This will help doctors to provide more personalised care and empower patients to manage their own health and wellbeing helping to improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the whole population.