Joint WONCA Europe and EURACT Statement on Portuguese Minister for Higher Education proposal to shorten Vocational Training in the field of General Practice/Family Medicine
Due to the information on the press interview given by Mr. Manuel Heitor - Portuguese Minister of Higher Education for Jornal Diario de Noticias on the 2nd of September 2021, WONCA Europe as a family medicine scientific association and the European Academy of Teachers in General Practice/Family Medicine (EURACT) feel obliged to attend position on the subject matter.
Primary health care is the cornerstone of any modern health system. Its quality and efficiency are a prerequisite for the efficient functioning of the entire medical care system for patients. Family doctors play a key role in it, practicing a discipline with a strict and specific clinical and scientific agenda. Getting to know it in-depth requires a reliable education process with strictly defined goals, didactic methods and precise outcomes. The implementation of full professional training, completed with obtaining the full competence of a family doctor, requires appropriate resources, as well as the time needed to educate a professional, efficiently operating in an extremely wide area of clinical and social activities.
Taking the above-mentioned considerations into account, WONCA Europe and EURACT want to warn against any reckless simplification of the training in family medicine, including shortening the process of postgraduate education, which might be seen as an action, threatening the health safety of patients.
In view of the current situation, WONCA Europe and EURACT call on politicians to carefully formulate proposals for changes in the educational system for primary health care professionals, preceded by a thorough analysis of experience and scientific evidence, as well as an open discussion with the Portuguese association of family doctors. Especially in this regard, both organizations declare their far-reaching readiness to cooperate.
Prof. Dr. Shlomo Vinker Prof. Dr. Nele Michels
WONCA Europe President EURACT President
22nd September 2021