Exclusive: GMC report on MRCGP pass rates delayed

A highly anticipated independent review into low MRCGP exam pass rates for international medical graduates has been delayed.

Dr Farah Jameel: pass rates must be investigated
Dr Farah Jameel: pass rates must be investigated

The GMC commissioned the review in March to investigate results of applied knowledge test (AKT) and clinical skills assessment (CSA) elements of MRCGP exams from October 2010 to December 2012. A report on the findings was due to be handed to the regulator by 30 June.

Professor Aneez Esmail, who is leading the review, told GP he would hand the report to the GMC ‘shortly’, but that it was unlikely to be made public before the end of August.

Professor Esmail, a professor of general practice at the University of Manchester, said compiling the report had been ‘difficult’ and that collecting the data took longer than anticipated.

Dr Kamal Sidhu, a GP trainer from Durham, called for CSA exams to be recorded on video to make the collection of evidence easier.

‘The report may help the college to understand the impact and the seriousness of the issue,’ he said. ‘The college asks for evidence but no-one can actually produce that evidence because the college does not video the examination and candidates are not allowed to video it either. Nor are they allowed to discuss the stations (the mock consultation part of the CSA exam) with their peers. So, the college wants evidence which is impossible to provide.’

Dr Farah Jameel, a GP registrar and member of the BMA junior doctors committee, said the discrepancy in the pass rates between the different groups is getting worse.

‘I fear faith in the system is being lost with each passing day,’ she said. ‘Ultimately the fate of many a trainee rests on this review so it is rather important to get it right. The ball has been rolling albeit rather slowly for the last three years.

‘It's an emotionally exhausting experience for trainees and every delay makes matters harder to comprehend. I personally continue to remain hopeful and await the wealth of information and reforms a thorough review has the potential of bringing.’

In May LMCs called for the GMC, BMA and RCGP to launch an investigation into the reasons why international medical graduates' pass rates for the MRCGP examination are consistently lower than those of UK graduates. They said the pass rate was 91% for UK graduates but only 36% for those who did not graduate in the UK.

A spokeswoman for the GMC was unavailable to comment.

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