A new General Internal Medicine (GIM) specialty has been launched by Health Education England (HEE) to address the growing need for physicians who can deliver care for a range of complex conditions.
Pilot training programmes have started in three regions, with applications opening today (July 26).
Currently, Higher Specialty Training in GIM can only be taken as part of dual training with a group 1 specialty.
But these pilots will create a new single accreditation in GIM, with the aim of providing high quality general care for patients with multiple unrelated conditions.
Crucially, this would also reduce the need for referrals to different specialist teams – and relieve pressure on waiting lists for specialist procedures and clinics.
HEE drew up plans for the new specialty after a number of hospital trusts across the country started re-opening GIM departments, showing that this role was needed.
A GIM consultant would be an expert in managing a broad range of acute illnesses and treating common conditions, while playing a key role in diagnosis of people with unusual or complex conditions and facilitating care when multiple specialist teams are involved.
Examples include looking after inpatients with multiple conditions and on many different types of medication, to provide holistic person-centred care for all their conditions. They could also provide support for outpatients with apparently vague symptoms such as weight loss and pain that might indicate serious conditions such as cancer, who do not fit into traditional cancer pathways.
Dr Phil Bright, Clinical Advisor for Internal Medicine Training at HEE, said:
“GIM is an important part of the future of physician care and these pilots offer an exciting opportunity.
“Until the 1980s, GIM departments were commonplace in UK hospitals. Over time, physicians began to focus on the delivery of specialist care and GPs have been left trying to co-ordinate care for an individual patient across multiple specialty teams. This is now becoming increasingly challenging as medical care develops.
“Patients’ demographics are changing, with a greater focus on older people and those with multiple co-morbidities, so physician care needs to evolve too. The opening of these training programmes is a crucial step in that process.”
The pilot programmes are taking place in Wessex and the Midlands (East and West):
- University Hospital, Southampton
- Queen Alexander Hospital, Portsmouth
- St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight
- University Hospital, Birmingham
- University Hospital, Coventry & Warwickshire
- The Royal Shrewsbury & Telford NHS Trust
- The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
- University Hospitals of Leicester
Applications close on August 16 with trainees starting in post in late 2022 or early 2023.