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Health education bosses launch second-chance scheme for failed GP trainees

GP trainees who left training having failed at least one of their exams will be given another chance under the a new Health Education England scheme.

The new ‘Targeted GP Training’ scheme will allow GP trainees to re-enter training if they left GP training between January 2010 and January 2018 with satisfactory Work Place Based Assessments but only one of two required assessments.

This comes after Pulse revealed in 2016 education bosses were planning a major shake-up of GP recruitment to give ‘targeted’ support to trainees who previously failed to complete entry requirements.

While the proposed scheme suggested it would help specialists wishing to retrain in general practice, the finalised program will focus on encouraging GP trainees to re-enter training.

Instead, HEE has said other doctors looking for a career change into general practice ‘will now be considered through the existing recruitment processes’. 

The HEE guide to the scheme has said that the RGCP is looking at how the targeted scheme will impact the number of exam attempts, with previous reports suggesting a ‘sixth attempt’ would be beneficial to trainees.

But the HEE document said: ‘It is likely that the current additional fifth attempt permitted outside training would ceased to be offered with any increase in exam attempts.’

The scheme will begin recruiting in August 2018 with the first cohort to begin the scheme in February 2019.

BMA GP committee workforce, education and training, policy lead Dr Helena McKeown said the targeted training is ‘welcome’ and will begin ‘removing the barriers for some doctors to re-enter training’.

She said: ‘Whilst 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.'

GP trainees are now also able to apply for a 12-month extension to their GP training instead of just six months.

Professor Simon Gregory, national lead on GP specialty training, said: 'The introduction in January 2018 of up to a year has meant that we don’t end up losing trainees simply because they needed a little bit of extra time on one of the components of training.'

The move by education bosses comes as GP numbers continue to decline with 219 full time equivalent GPs leaving the workforce in the three months leading up to December 2017.

Meanwhile, HEE has recruited the highest ever number of GP trainees, but still fell short of the long-standing target of 3,250 graduates a year.

An embattled exam

Pulse revealed in 2016 that the RCGP estimates said ‘around 400’ potential GPs were trapped in MRCGP limbo after being unable to pass clinical skills assessment component.

Candidates can typically only have four attempts at the exam and are then unable to complete the MRCGP - a pre-requisite for receiving a CCT.

Representatives had met with the College to argue these doctors could support the GP workforce if they were given further supported training time before taking an alternative assessment like the CEGPR.

But the College had pointed out that many of these doctors already struggle to meet ‘equivalence’ standards for clinical skills and knowledge, and said an overhaul would require regulatory change.

This followed the row over the differential pass rates between white and black and minority ethnic doctors taking the CSA, which led to the college undergoing a judicial review.

The court ruled the MRCGP was lawful but urged the RCGP to take action around the number of BME doctors and international medical graduates failing the exam.


Readers' comments (11)

  • So this is just to recruit more GPs. It’s not going to work. Until pay and conditions improve many more doctors will avoid GP land.

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  • We need more doctors from EU.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Without examining the political circumstances carefully, being too liberal or restrictive will run into mistakes.
    Given the way history had developed for the college , it has to go even extra miles to help these poor candidates yrapped in the system to pass eventually. May be too many in the college we’re sitting on high horses and just let people attempt again and fail again and again .......
    In education, it matters more in rescuing the ‘poorer’ learners than glorifying the successful ones ........

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  • Vinci Ho

    ..... trapped in the system.....

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  • Some of the best ST3s I have worked with have failed the CSA and all seem to have disappeared from local service, reportedly having returned to their country of origin. Requires some 'reflection'?

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  • How long before they try to attract the recently retired back to the fold,how long before they admit defeat and actually address the real issues why no one wants to join the club/stay in the club.

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  • Have no confidence (on practical, professional or medical matters) in the present chair of RCGP and would not have that person as my GP. Have even less confidence (if that's possible) in the preceding chairs especially the last two. And I'm not alone with these sentiments.

    'If it looks like a duck ....etc'. MRCGP is a science free money making racket.

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  • The MRCGP is internationally recognised as being a very high quality assessment. Decorumest is unaware of evidence and prefers his prejudices.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    nMRCGP is not fit for purpose. Some of us (like my wife and I) predicted this loss of registrars when the scheme was first mooted. The bar was being set too high. We were told, that it would all be OK because the exam would be "different"*. Wife and I were both trainers, I did some work with "doctors in difficulty" and Mrs was an appraiser and chaired an education committee in a deanery I will not mention, for now.

    What was wrong with the old Summative Assessment? It was ideal IMHO as it said, "This doctor has a safe, basic competence", and old MRCGP was said to be the "Gold Standard" and was voluntary.

    Sadly, the College was just hell-bent on empire-building and, yes, probably making money. It has ruined the careers of some jolly good doctors who would also have been good GPs. I personally know of one who was in our training practice. (I wasn't his/her trainer though.)

    * "Different" = Newspeak for "this will probably be a disaster but we have to label it as something to stop people seeing it for the pile of TISH that it is". Also- "And I may make a career out of it which will take me away from having to do the real job of sorting out people's problems"

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  • Just as well you took early retirement Took Early Retirement. Use of nMRCGP betrays you. Summative assessment was full of flaws being an entirely subjective assessment by someone hardly disinterested. I don't remember anybody ever failing it.

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