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The state of medical education and practice in the UK report: 2014

Welcome to our 2014 report on the state of medical education and practice in the UK.

Our aim in publishing this is to:

  • use GMC and other data to provide a picture of the medical profession in the UK and to identify some of the challenges it faces
  • promote discussion and debate about some of the practical steps we and others could take in better supporting doctors and improving patient care.

This year we provide a more extensive range of reference data, focusing on the shape of the workforce and patterns of complaints to the GMC.

In a change from previous reports, we also provide a more qualitative look at issues raised through feedback to our regional liaison service and offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and explore potential areas of risk and opportunity in medical practice.

Please note that corrections were made to the online version on 24 November relating to the table 10 in chapter 2, and statements linked to that table.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 provides a more comprehensive analysis of our data on the medical profession than in previous years, including the changing shape of the workforce and fitness to practise data. Regional and country differences are examined using data from complaints and the medical register. This chapter is intended as a reference chapter. It shows:

  • there is variation across the countries and regions of the UK in the number of doctors, and the demographic makeup of doctors
  • the number of doctors is increasing, with specialists seeing the most pronounced rise; emergency medicine specialists grew the most
  • 49% of general practitioners, and 32% of specialists are female doctors
  • The increase in complaints is slowing, but the number of complaints we received in 2013 was still 64% more than in 2010. 

Read the report

Read chapter 1 (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see the download tab.

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 focuses on the complaints made about doctors to the GMC, and looks at which groups of doctors are more at risk of being complained about, or investigated, or receiving a sanction or warning. It shows:

  • doctors working in some specialties are more likely to be complained about, investigated, and given a sanction or a warning
  • some groups of doctors are more likely to receive a sanction or warning – male doctors over 50 years old who graduated outside the UK, and and male GPs aged 30-50 years old who graduated outside the UK
  • different types of allegation are made by the public than by doctors’ employers, and the types of allegation vary for different groups of doctors

Read the report

Read chapter 2 (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see the download tab.

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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 looks at some of the data we hold on the education of medical students and doctors in training. We examine how prepared doctors feel they are for practice after leaving medical school, and whether there’s a correlation with their later performance.

It shows:

  • some medical schools’ graduates feel more prepared for their first year of practice than others, ranging from 60% to 85% of graduates agreeing they felt prepared
  • some doctors entering practice for the first time feel worried about specific aspects of their work, including how to prescribe properly, and communicate with patients

Read the report

Read chapter 3 (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see the download tab.

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 explores a number of issues raised with us, particularly through qualitative feedback to our regional liaison service and offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which may become issues affecting patient safety and medical practice in the future. It shows:

  • there continues to be a lack of awareness on how to raise concerns
  • many doctors request further guidance about the ethical and logistical considerations when caring for patients in the last few days and hours of their life, especially when their care is provided outside of a hospital setting.
  • that both primary and secondary care are under pressure in certain areas, including emergency medicine and psychiatry

Read the report

Read chapter 4 (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see the download tab.

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Conclusion

 The conclusion draws together some of the themes highlighted in the report. It shows that:

  • the UK should be proud of its medical education, though work is needed to address the areas doctors in training are concerned about, and to understand the variation across medical schools
  • movement of doctors internationally continues to change, and we continue to benefit from the skills of doctors around the world
  • some groups of doctors are more likely to receive a sanction or warning because they are prone to particular types of allegation.

Read the report

Read the conclusion (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see the download tab.

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