By Ian Quinn
Exclusive: The RCGP is to refund candidates who narrowly failed its clinical skills assessment when pass rates slumped following changes to the marking system, Pulse can reveal.
The college will write to borderline candidates who failed the CSA in September 2010 – when the pass rate plummeted from 81% to just 46% – offering a refund plus practical support for those who have still not passed. Pulse has previously revealed the college did not obtain the required approval from the GMC for a ‘major change’ to its marking process raising the bar for candidates, amid criticism that it failed to properly warn trainers and trainees.
The RCGP continues to insist it has not acted unfairly, but Pulse understands it has now bowed to pressure from the GPC to compensate candidates.
A motion passed by the GPC at its latest meeting called for the college to write to 27 candidates who may have been affected by the toughening of the marking scheme offering further explanation of the changes, a refund or free future exam entry, and training support.
Dr Bill Reith, chair of the RCGP postgraduate committee, said: ‘We have the motion and will be responding next week. We will be contacting relevant candidates once the current [intake] comes to an end.’
Pulse understands that when the college contacts registrars, it will meet the terms of the GPC’s motion, without acknowledging wrongdoing.
GPs and trainees welcomed the decision to refund candidates, but warned the controversy had had a damaging impact on trainees, who can spend thousands of pounds to take their qualifications. Dr Nigel Giam, a GP trainer in Little Venice, north-west London, said: ‘If the RCGP is refunding that’s great. It’s important because these people have very low morale.’
One candidate who failed the exam in September said the controversy had had a major negative impact on him, telling Pulse: ‘I was literally on the verge of quitting as a GP. It’s not just the cost of the exam. I also did two courses which cost me £700 and stayed in a hotel.’
Dr Nigel Giam Passing the CSA