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GP trainees to complete training with recorded assessment replacing CSA

GP trainees are going to be able to complete their training via a ‘recorded assessment’ that will temporarily replace the CSA exam.

The news was announced today in a joint statement from Health Education England and the health education bodies in the devolved nations, alongside the RCGP, BMA and GMC.

The statement also said AKT exams would resume at test centres ‘with appropriate social distancing safeguards in place’ from July.

It comes after CSA and AKT exams were cancelled in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The statement said: ‘We have agreed that an alternative temporary assessment, to meet the standards of the CSA component of the MRCGP should be developed to enable you to have the opportunity to gain the full MRCGP in the time available.

‘The CSA exam will not be run during this timeframe. A “recorded assessment” is to be developed which will enable you to submit video or audio recordings of consultations, recognising that many consultations are now remote.

‘RCGP and GP training educator colleagues are rapidly working on details of this assessment, building on experience with the former MRCGP video assessment, to enable submission of this temporary solution to the GMC for consideration of approval.’

The signatory bodies said they ‘believe that this temporary alternative to the CSA will enable trainees to have the opportunity to demonstrate their competence’ but added that it ‘will be required to be at the same standard as covered by the CSA in order to gain MRCGP and thereby the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT)’.

Commenting on why it reached this conclusion, the bodies said it came as ‘some of the solutions that have been advocated such as waiving some of the MRCGP requirements or temporary certification are not legally permissible’ while some other ‘possible examination solutions are not deliverable in the required time frame’.

Meanwhile, regarding the AKT, the statement said: ‘The RCGP is working with Pearson Vue to enable the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) to resume at their test centres with appropriate social distancing safeguards in place from July. We have agreed that priority should be given to ST3 candidates. The College is also investigating options for remote invigilation for those that are shielding.’

It said the ‘deliverable solution’ has been worked up in cooperation between the four statutory health education bodies, the RCGP, BMA, NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care, as well as trainee representatives.

And concluded: ‘We recognise that no solution will please everybody but believe these changes are deliverable and will help as many colleagues as possible to complete their training on time.’

Dr Anthony James, chair of the RCGP’s AiT community, told Pulse: ‘GP trainees have been understandably frustrated since the cancellation of exams back in March – the end of training is a huge milestone, with many having accepted jobs and planned moves around this important transition point.

‘Handling additional uncertainty during already difficult times has been extremely tough for many, so I hope that today’s announcement will be helpful for all those trainees affected. As an elected representative, it’s been hugely inspiring to see trainees come together on this issue, supporting myself and other reps to ensure that their views are heard. 

‘In our recent survey, trainees indicated that they wanted options to enable them to progress and these will now be made available. There is a lot of work still to do to provide this new assessment, but I have been thoroughly impressed by the hard work of those at the RCGP, Statutory Education Bodies and GMC to deliver this.’ 

This comes a week after a group of trainers wrote to the RCGP to propose an alternative to MRCGP exams process, whilst the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) also called on the College to implement temporary measures for the affected trainees.