What is a GMC regulated credential?
We are introducing a new process to formally recognise a doctor's expertise in a specific area of practice - a GMC regulated credential. Our aim for credentials is to approve them in areas of practice where they will help reduce risks to patients and support the service to provide better patient care. They will provide approved approaches to develop doctors in an assured and educationally supervised environment.
These credentials will be developed and delivered by other bodies, but approved, quality assured, and recognised by the GMC. We will recognise the credential on the doctor's entry on the List of Registered Medical Practitioners, which the public and employers will be able to see.
We have identified four areas where credentialing might be required – focusing on specialised or discrete areas of practice:
1. Areas of practice, currently components of training, where there is a patient need for increased provision
These types of credentials provide some doctors with the opportunity and flexibility to extend their scope of practice, in relevant or related areas that are not, or were not, covered by their training. This would provide one way for the service to meet certain needs of patients and the healthcare service much more quickly.
2. Areas of medicine with limited regulation where there is increased patient risk
We do recognise that this will not solve all of the patient safety issues, especially in areas where a wide range of regulated and unregulated professionals work, such as cosmetic interventions. The GMC only regulates doctors, but we are aiming to have a positive impact with credentials being part of that assurance. We are also working with other agencies to identify ways we can help improve patient safety overall within the cosmetic industry.
3. Emerging areas of practice that are not currently part of an approved training programme and where there is sufficient patient risk
As medicine changes and evolves, there will be new areas of practice that have not been part of an individual's postgraduate training and areas where a new need has been identified. Credentials will provide a mechanism for these areas to have UK-wide consistent and recognised clinical/professional standards that will be delivered with appropriate supervision and support.
4. Extending and enhancing skills for specialists and/or GPs that are not covered in training sufficiently and where there is a patient need
While postgraduate training sets a baseline of knowledge, skills and capabilities, in some specific areas a doctor may require further training to build on their expertise in a discrete area. The majority of learning and development, outside of formal training, will not need approved standards and outcomes (for example post-CCT fellowships and CPD). But where there may be significant patient safety issues, where training opportunities are insufficient, or where they do not provide adequate flexibility to support effective service delivery, assured, consistent and recognised standards will be required.
Why are credentials being introduced?
Medicine is rapidly evolving with new technologies and treatments. Credentialing will help the profession to adapt to the future needs of patients and maintain consistent standards across the UK, as well as building on existing skills, experiences and qualifications.
Credentialing offers an opportunity for doctors to continue to develop new skills, and will complement postgraduate training programmes, not undermine them. We will introduce the process for approving and assuring credentials gradually, so we can make sure this works for patients, doctors, and employers. We are currently supporting organisations that are developing credentials in a small number of prioritised areas through the approval process.
Credentials will help the profession to adapt to the future needs of patients and maintain consistent standards across the UK. Any GMC regulated credential will have to show it will address significant patient safety issues, and/or offer opportunities to develop doctors flexibly to help support more effective service delivery.