Regulating doctors, ensuring good medical practice


New era for medical education and training

Press Release

01 Apr 2010

From today (1 April), the General Medical Council becomes responsible for regulating every stage of medical education in the UK.

Over time, the merger and Lord Patel’s review will bring a transformation in doctors’ medical education and training.

Professor Peter Rubin, GMC Chair

It means that for the first time ever, one organisation will set standards for education and practice, oversee medical education and training, operate the register of doctors and ensure they are competent and fit to practise.

The new arrangements follow the merger of the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board with the GMC which should create a simpler and more co-ordinated system of regulation that seeks to raise standards and spread good practice.

The GMC will shortly publish the final report of the Patel review which has looked at how to make the most of the merger. It addresses the different stages of education and training (undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing practice) and the links between them, as well as the position of medical graduates from other countries.  The recommendations have implications not only for doctors and those involved in their training, but also for patients and for healthcare organisations throughout the UK.

The GMC will consider the review’s recommendations and take forward any further actions to achieve the full benefits of the merger. For now, PMETB’s structures and standards will carry on unchanged within the GMC. This includes setting national requirements for specialty and GP training as well as the quality assurance of training and of the routes and processes for certification.  

Health Minister with responsibility for professional regulation Ann Keen said:

“I am pleased to see the vision of one regulator for medical education and training as set out in Sir John Tooke’s report achieved today.  Bringing all stages of the regulation of medical education and training under the GMC will bring a number of significant benefits, including a more robust and streamlined system of quality assurance that is more effective and less burdensome on the NHS. This is a significant step towards achieving our aspiration for excellence in medical education and training.”

Chair of the GMC, Professor Peter Rubin said:

“Medical education and training in the UK has an extremely bright future as we build on the strong foundations laid by both the GMC and PMETB. Over time, the merger and Lord Patel’s review will bring a transformation in doctors’ medical education and training, but doctors can be reassured that everything is being done to ensure the merger is a seamless process with minimum disruption to day-to-day activities."

PMETB Chair Professor Stuart G Macpherson said:

“The merger now complete, we are looking forward to a new era for postgraduate training at the GMC. The PMETB chapter of training may now be closed but as our staff move over to Euston Road and myself and fellow board colleagues join the Postgraduate Board, we bring with us knowledge and insight which will continue to progress the important work we’ve done in the past five years.”

Lord Naren Patel, who has led the review of education and training regulation, said:

"The UK will only provide first rate medical care if it also provides first rate training for those who deliver that care. My report is about what the GMC must achieve as the regulator of medical education and training. But the GMC cannot carry out its task alone – it will need the support of all those involved in education and training and in the commissioning and delivery of services. Over the next few years, when resources will be stretched, this will be a challenge, but a challenge that must be met.”

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC said:

"This is a great opportunity to ensure every stage of education and training successfully prepares the doctor for the next one, where standards are constantly rising and where all doctors are treated fairly, regardless of where they come from or at what stage they are in their careers. Working with everyone involved in medical education, we can create a system of regulation that is robust, fair and proportionate, a system that helps drive improvement without imposing unnecessary burdens on employers, educators or doctors.” 

Notes to Editors:

For further information please contact the Media Relations Office on 020 7189 5454, out of hours 020 7189 5444, email press@gmc-uk.org, website www.gmc-uk.org.

The General Medical Council registers and licenses doctors to practise medicine in the UK. Our purpose is summed up in the phrase: Regulating doctors, Ensuring Good Medical Practice.

The law gives us four main functions:

• keeping up-to-date registers of qualified doctors
• fostering good medical practice
• promoting high standards of medical education
• dealing firmly and fairly with doctors whose fitness to practise is in doubt

Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA)

From April 2011, the adjudication of fitness to practise cases involving doctors will transfer from the GMC to a new body called the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator (OHPA). OHPA is being established under the Health and Social Care Act 2008. It is being created to ensure clear separation between the investigation of fitness to practise cases and the process of determining whether a professional’s fitness to practise is impaired.

To begin with, the new body will be responsible for making decisions on fitness to practise cases brought forward by the GMC and, in time, the General Optical Council. Over time, other regulators of healthcare professionals may transfer their adjudication functions to OHPA. For more information about OHPA, please visit www.ohpa.org.uk

The GMC will remain the regulator for doctors, continuing to set the standards for professional practice and receiving and investigating allegations about their fitness to practise.