DH and BAPIO to review CSA exam limits that lock out GP trainees

Hundreds of fully-trained would-be GPs are being locked out of a career in general practice because of limits on the CSA exam, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) has warned.

Dr Ramesh Mehta: overhaul CSA rules to help more doctors become GPs
Dr Ramesh Mehta: overhaul CSA rules to help more doctors become GPs

BAPIO president Dr Ramesh Mehta told GPonline that trainees who repeatedly fail the CSA exam should be granted a further year of training or be assessed differently to stop their potential from being wasted.

Current regulations allow trainees a maximum of four attempts at the CSA component of the MRCGP exams, after which they are barred from taking it again – and prevented from entering a career in general practice.

BAPIO met health secretary Jeremy Hunt last week to discuss the problem, during which it agreed to meet again with his advisors to discuss improvements that could be made to CSA tests, Dr Mehta said. ‘We will ensure this is followed up,’ he added.

CSA exam limits

The CSA exam came under heavy fire last year, when BAPIO took the RCGP to court, over claims the exam was discriminatory against black and minority ethnic doctors.

Although having since praised progress made to improve the exam, Dr Mehta said the system must change to stop the potential of these trainees being wasted at a time when GP shortages are rife across the country.

‘These are people who were interviewed and selected to get into GP training, were trained for three years and received feedback from patients and trainers during this time,’ said Dr Mehta. ‘They completed workplace-based assessments, which they passed. Then they also passed the theory test.’

‘On the one hand, we have a huge shortage of GPs, while on the other we have trained people who have been working as GPs absolutely fine until they couldn’t pass a single two hour exam with role-players.’

Hundreds of trained GPs are being barred from working in general practice because of these limits, BAPIO warned.

‘Trainees who are removed from training are not being utilised – all of those people who are trained to be GPs are not able to work in general practice, and are doing other jobs.’

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