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RCGP urged to explain £10m net income from MRCGP over five years

Exclusive The GPC has called for talks with the RCGP over the £10m net income it has made from trainees taking the MRCGP exam in the past five years, Pulse can reveal.

An analysis of the RCGP annual accounts from 2010 to 2014 reveals that the college has earned on average £2.1m a year from exams after direct costs are taken into account.

The BMA has said it is going to meet with the college regarding the transparency of their exam fees, and said they were concerned that trainees were being made to fund the college’s activities.

But the college insisted that the exam was ‘cost neutral’ and the additional income is used for other overheads related to the exam.

It comes after the college increased the costs of membership for trainees last week in order to reduce exam fees - a decision that was criticised by the BMA.

A Pulse analysis of Charity Commission data shows that the college had a net income of more than £2.8 million from exams last year, when income from exams hit £8.3m and costs were £5.6m.

The overall net income for all the college’s activities last year stood at £2.3m, after costs of £37.5m.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, honorary treasurer for the RCGP, said: ‘The figures only indicate the obvious costs of examinations and do not take into account the considerable overheads involved with running a professional licensing examination, such as the MRCGP assessment.

‘The exam is cost neutral in that any income generated is wholly spent on costs associated with essential aspects of the delivering the MRCGP, without which it could not adequately function or develop in line with ongoing reviews of systems and adherence to evolving GMC requirements.’

She said that this includes the ‘organisation of committees to oversee exam development and quality management’, as well as the ‘development of guidance and new exam tools, equality and diversity reviews, and ongoing engagement with trainees and trainers.’

She added: ‘Some indirect costs of the exam, for example running and maintenance of our CSA exam centre, are funded by different departments across the College and are recorded as such, therefore making it difficult to provide a meaningful or accurate explanation without sharing confidential information, such as that about salaries or staffing arrangements, and in some cases, commercially sensitive, data.’

The BMA told Pulse that they would be meeting with the RCGP to discuss the transparency of their fees for trainees, and reiterated their call for clarity on how income from exams was spent.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are concerned about the rising fee costs that are now being borne by GP trainees and the transparency around how the income generated from the fees is being spent.’

‘We do appreciate that in a scheme this large there are going to be significant administration costs, but GP trainees need to have confidence they are getting value for money. We are meeting the RCGP to put our concerns directly to them and to urge greater openness in this entire area.’

The BMA has already called the college’s plan to hike its trainee membership fee by £595 a year ‘unjustifiable’, though the RCGP says reducing exam fees by £409 per attempt will make it fairer.

This is particularly important for black and minority ethnic trainees who have a lower pass rate for the Clinical Skills Assessment component of the MRCGP.

The difference in pass rate was used as a core part of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin’s call for a judicial review of the MRCGP, which found the college processes were not discriminatory, but did call on them to address the different CSA success rates between white and non-white graduates.

Please note that this article was amended at 6pm on 15 June to reflect that the RCGP regards the figures provided to the Charity Commission as net income - and not profit.

RCGP exam income and costs 2010-2014


 IncomeCostsNet income
2014 £    8,381,508.00 £  5,633,833.00 £  2,747,675.00
2013 £    8,281,833.00 £  5,111,538.00 £  3,170,295.00
2012 £    7,525,674.00 £  5,883,483.00 £  1,642,191.00
2011 £    6,504,942.00 £  4,700,789.00 £  1,804,153.00
2010 £    5,798,900.00 £  4,471,545.00 £  1,327,355.00
Total £  36,492,857.00 £25,801,188.00 £10,691,669.00


Source: UK Charity Commission


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Readers' comments (145)

  • I just hope the net profit was not from those who had to resit their MRCGP exam.

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  • Just cancel your membership. Copy and paste and send to:

    Dear Colleague,

    I am writing regarding the cancellation of my 2015/16 membership.

    The reason is that I .......

    I therefore want to cancel my membership and arrange pro rata reimbursement of my membership fee.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you for your help.

    Dr ?
    membership number ?

    Easy and over 20 years will pay for a sports car.

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  • ...cost neutral
    ...after splashing out on a fabulous office in London, corporate jollies and somoe more self agrandising pish...

    trainees are a cash cow that have no choice but to pay up

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  • Woww!! And where are the present and ex presidents/chairs/so called reps of the profession who should have been making this open to members, now? Still raking in the jollies both home and abroad as 'key note speakers; highly respected colleagues;inspirational leaders;OBE this MBE that... blah blah...if there are mass resignations from RCGP it will be obvious to future employers that there is a good reason.

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  • I resigned last week - I have had enough

    This organisation has done NOTHING for me as a young GP, and the shores of faraway lands are looking increasingly attractive.

    Im not surprised that they make such a big profit.

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  • "The money was just resting in our account "
    Does anyone seriously believe that having just financed the major rebuild at Euston Square the College can't immediately identify to the penny exactly where all income is allocated?
    When RCGP eagerly supported Govt proposals for all GP income to be published, why are they so coy about the "commercial,sensitivity " of their own funds and income?
    As a monopoly body with trainees over a barrel, total transparency is the absolute minimum expectation.

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  • The only people who are forced to be open and transparent (duty of candour anyone?) are the doctors. Everyone else is exempt and can do as they please. you have no rights as a doctor and will get trod on continuously.

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  • How exactly do you spell 'charlatans'? Have I got it right?

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  • "ongoing engagement with trainees and trainers"
    Does anyone else remember what happened to the February CSA sitting?
    Engagement! That's hilarious.

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  • I've never been a member since they stuffed up processing my GP qualification and left me jobless for a few weeks. I still bear a grudge which I think is justified. Never ever figured out why anyone joins - other than to tick the boxes to work abroad perhaps!

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