Hundreds of potential GPs will have longer to pass exams, says HEE

Hundreds of doctors who fail elements of the MRCGP could be brought back into the potential GP workforce under a scheme being rolled out by Health Education England (HEE).

GP training - more time to pass exams (Photo: iStock)
GP training - more time to pass exams (Photo: iStock)

GP trainees who passed a work place based assessment and one of the two MRCGP exams - the applied knowledge test (AKT) or clinical skills assessment (CSA) - could be offered another chance, HEE says.

According to the RCGP, as many as 245 doctors could be eligible to re-enter GP training under the programme, which has also been welcomed by the BMA.

To be eligible, doctors must have been on a GP training scheme previously, and have left between August 2010 and January 2018 after passing either the AKT or the CSA. They must have a 'satisfactory work place based assessment, a current GMC registration with a licence to practice and have worked in medicine within the past two years.

GP training

The HEE programme will offer doctors who 'exhausted extensions to training' available to them more time to pass the one exam they previously failed. These doctors will benefit from new rules that took effect from 31 January, the extension available to GP trainees increased from six months with an exceptional further six months, to 12 months with an exceptional further six months.

HEE national lead on GP specialty training Professor Simon Gregory said: 'The focus is on providing a re-entry route for those who were progressing in training but were unable to pass one of the exam components of the MRCGP qualification in the time available, while maintaining the high standards of the assessment process.'

GPC workforce, education and training lead Dr Helena McKeown said: 'Given the workforce problems facing general practice, we welcome the implementation of targeted training for re-entry doctors which should go towards removing the barriers for some doctors to re-enter training. This is something the BMA has been calling for since 2014 and are glad to see this finally being rolled out.

Targeted support

'While it is vital that the bar for qualifying remains at an appropriate level, targeted support of this kind will give those doctors, who for various reasons have been unsuccessful in initial assessments, the opportunity to develop and gain the competencies they need to become independent practitioners in the future.'

The scheme was initially set to include doctors switching specialty and top-up training for overseas doctors, but plans to support these groups are still under consideration, HEE says.

Dr McKeown added: 'More can still be achieved in terms of seeing through proposals regarding switching speciality and certificate of eligibility for GP registration (CEGPR) top-up training which will have an even greater impact on the current GP workforce problems.'

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