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The state of medical education and practice in the UK: 2015

This is our fifth annual report of the state of medical education and practice in the UK. It sets out what is happening in the education and practice of doctors, and considers some of the current challenges facing the profession and the systems in which it works.

Along with this year’s report, we also published an extensive online resource of our registration, education and fitness to practise data. This contains more than 1,000 tables, set out in a structure designed to make it easy to find key figures. We hope that patient groups, educators, employers, doctors, workforce planners, policymakers, researchers and regulators find this resource useful, together with the analysis in this year’s report.

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Chapter 1: Doctors working and training in the UK

Chapter 1 looks in detail at doctors with a licence to practise in the UK and the flow of these doctors into and out of the profession.

Analysis of this data has identified areas of concern in the make-up of some specialties which could have an impact in the future.

This includes a high or increasing reliance on older doctors, and non-UK graduates in specialities including surgery, psychiatry and emergency medicine.

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

Chapter 2: Complaints to the GMC about doctors

Chapter 2 examines complaints that were made to the GMC about doctors, focusing on the outcomes from different types of complaint; and who is making complaints and what sort of complaints they make.

Our data shows the number of complaints made by doctors about other doctors has nearly doubled in the last four years - although unsurprisingly most complaints still come from members of the public.

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

Chapter 3: Issues linked to professional standards

Chapter 3 uses data from across the GMC to examine those issues about which doctors have sought guidance, such as prescribing, confidentiality, the use of new technology and end of life care.

We also look at issues that have been reported to the GMC where standards of care have not reached acceptable levels and intervention may be required.

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

Chapter 4: Data and the performance of an organisation

Chapter 4, this case study looks at how the risk of poor professional performance by doctors may relate to where they work and examines where there is a meaningful correlation between intervention such as special measures, CQC inspection results and fitness to practise investigations.

Our data shows an increase in complaints to, and investigations by, the GMC from Trusts in England from two years before they were placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission. It also shows a fall in complaints in the year after.

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

Chapter 5: Understanding difference in educational attainment

Chapter 5 examines current knowledge and new research on the variable progression through medical education in the UK.

It looks at differences depending on the doctor’s ethnicity and where he or she first qualified; and how gaps in attainment could be addressed.

We find patterns of difference once in higher education are not exclusive to medicine, nor are differences explained by bias in the marking of tests.

Read chapter 5 (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see download. 

Chapter 6: Upholding standards and the remediation of doctors

Chapter 6 studies the effects of warnings and sanctions on doctors involved in fitness to practise processes in terms of their ability to remediate and return to full professional standards.

Our evidence shows that successful remediation depends on the attitudes of both doctors and employers being willing and able to make it happen.

Read chapter 6 (pdf). For the full report or a summary document, see download.

Reference tables

Please note that a correction was made to Table 28 in the Reference tables about fitness to practise on 16 March 2016.

For the first time, this year we have published this large set of data tables to accompany the State of medical education and practice 2015. These tables comprehensively cover GMC data relating to the register, medical education and fitness to practise. They summarise the source data used to create many parts of this year’s report.