§ Mr. Tom Clarke
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish in the Official Report the letter dated 23 July from the Parliamentary Buckingham (Mr. Walden) to the hon. Member for Monklands, West regarding special courses for doctors specialising in the care and treatment of elderly people.
§ Mr. Walden
The text of my letter is as followsI promised to write in reply to your Parliamentary Question of 10 July about special courses for doctors specialising in the care and treatment of elderly people.Generally speaking, training for doctors wishing to specialise in this area is not provided in the form of self-contained courses at university medical schools. More usually in the medical schools the study of aspects of geriatric medicine forms part of a doctor's overall training (and retraining) programmes. Little specialist training is given formally at the undergraduate level, where the emphasis is more on imparting a basic knowledge of clinical skills.As far as general practitioner training is concerned, I understand that doctors may select a post in geriatric medicine or geriatric medicine combined with general medicine, and such a training post is recognised for prescribed experience under the Vocational Training Regulations of 1979. Such training posts are provided in all regions. Trainee general practitioners will also receive instruction in the care of the elderly at day release courses during the trainee year; also from their general practitioner trainers in the surgery and on home visits. Short, ad hoc courses may well form part of this wider programme, but details of their incidence or of numbers attending would be very difficult to obtain.At the postgraduate level, higher professional training is primarily the concern of the Royal Colleges and Faculties and the Joint Higher Training Committees, but there are also facilities for pursuing higher academic (university) qualifications. For the training programme in Geriatric Medicine, the Joint Committee on Higher Medical Training recommends 3 years of general professional training and a further 4 years of higher specialist training which must include responsibility for the care of patients in acute, rehabilitation and continuing care units, day hospital and out-patient clinic, and experience of assessment of patients at home. Specific training in the administrative aspects of geriatric medicine is also required and psychogeriatric experience is especially desirable. The 4 year period of higher specialist training may be aimed at one of two possible career posts: general physician with special responsibility for the elderly or physician in geriatric medicine. Again information is not readily available on particular courses forming part of this process at university medical schools.It should be noted that while this describes formal training in care and treatment of the elderly in the narrowest sense, many hospital doctors (cardiologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, endocrinologists and other specialists) as well as general practitioners provide services for the elderly.