Revamped CSA exam requires GP trainees to submit 13 recorded consultations

GP trainees will be asked to submit 13 recorded consultations as part of a testing system set up to replace the CSA exam during the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCGP has confirmed.

(Photo: Tarik Kizilkaya/Getty Images)
(Photo: Tarik Kizilkaya/Getty Images)

Earlier this month it was announced that GP trainees would be able to submit video or audio recordings of consultations to complete CSA exams under plans to help doctors complete specialty training on time.

The RCGP has confirmed that candidates taking the 'recorded consultation assessment' (RCA) will be asked to submit a series of 10-minute recordings of consultations with patients.

Candidates will be allowed to use their own smart devices to record consultations, all of which can be remote or face-to-face, and will be asked to submit evidence via a single central digital platform.

Recorded consultations

GP trainees in the first wave of RCA testing - those due to receive their certificate of completion of training (CCT) before 30 September - will be allowed an extra attempt to pass their CSA test on top of the usual four attempts, in recognition of disruption to training during the pandemic.

A letter to trainees from the RCGP Midlands faculty says: 'The RCA is a summative assessment of a doctor's abiltiy to integrate and apply clinical, professional, communication and practical skills appropriate for genreal practice. It will require candidates to submit 13 recorded consultations, which may be any combination of of audio, video or face-to-face encounters.'

The college has said that the RCA will ‘test the same competencies and curriculum areas as the CSA’ and will be assessed to the same standard. Trainees will be marked for data gathering, clinical management and interpersonal skills.

It also confirmed that the MRCGP and CCT will be awarded after completion of the CSA exam along with the applied knowledge test (AKT) and workplace based assessment (WPBA).

CSA exams were cancelled by the RCGP in March after the government implemented social distancing rules. The RCGP has now confirmed that the first session of the RCA will only be available to trainees due to CCT on or before 30 September. Trainees will be contacted by their local deanery and local education and training board GP education teams.

The college said it would release information on future exam sessions ‘as soon as possible’ for trainees who are due to CCT soon after 30 September.

Setting out details of a special arrangement for the first doctors taking the RCA test, the RCGP said: ‘We have decided that for trainees sitting either the RCA or the AKT before 30 September that any fail will be allowed as an additional attempt to the four normally permitted attempts,’ the college said.

Junior doctor rotations

The applied knowledge test (AKT) part of exams will resume at test centres from July 'with appropriate social distancing safeguards in place'.

Health Education England announced last week that medical rotations for junior doctors will restart in August after being cancelled for May, June and July as a result of the pandemic. Rotations were halted as part of workforce plans drawn up by NHS providers to protect the health care system during the outbreak of the pandemic.

Acting medical director at HEE Professor Sheona MacLeod, said: ‘HEE offices can work with relevant colleagues locally to determine the pace and timing of rotational changes for existing trainees, facilitating discussions around geographical location, workload management and around induction.’

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