Who will be eligible for GMC credentials?

Our framework describes GMC credentials for doctors. We recognise that in some areas, there is an ambition to develop packages of learning for other healthcare professionals or multi-professional teams. While we are not opposed to these developments, our framework is to support a system of credentials for doctors only.

Eligibility requirements for each GMC credential will describe the required level of training and experience doctors need to access the approved learning programme, or to have comparable capabilities recognised, in the specific area of practice. Entry requirements will be clearly set out by the organisation proposing the credential during the approvals process.

The organisation proposing the credential will identify and describe the entry requirements to a credential, basing them on the necessary expertise and experience that will minimise risk to patients.

In some areas of practice, eligibility for the credential may be limited to doctors in senior clinical roles, while in others, it may be appropriate to allow wider access to doctors who are not on the specialist and GP registers. As part of the early adopter phase we have been considering how to support opportunities for development for specialty and associate specialist (SAS) doctors.

We will only endorse credentials for doctors who have achieved the outcomes necessary to start the credential. The credential will build on, and recognise, capabilities and expertise gained through training and/or experience. Doctors who have developed their careers outside of formal postgraduate training who are seeking a GMC credential will need to show that they satisfy the entry criteria for that credential. A key principle of establishing the entry criteria will be how to ensure that patients receive high quality, safe care.

How will doctors with a GMC credential be recognised?

Our intention is that credentials will be noted on a doctor's entry on the medical register in the same way as recognised trainers. This will remain separate from being on the specialist or GP registers but will allow employers and patients to see if a doctor has a credential in a particular area.

Will there be retrospective recognition of a doctor's skills?

GMC credentials will describe the outcomes and standards expected of doctors working in the specific area of practice. Recognition will be gained by either training or an evaluation of evidence that the outcomes have been met.

Where a doctor can demonstrate with evidence that they have the skills and experience in an area of practice in which a credential is developed, we would expect them to be able to have this evaluated against the standards to gain recognition. However, this will be done on a case by case basis according to the entry requirements and outcomes of the credential.

What about doctors who don't have (or want) the GMC credential?

Credentials will not be mandatory for doctors working in a specific area of practice. The GMC does not have the legal authority to make any postgraduate training mandatory, including credentials. This is similar to working in a specialty, where it is not a requirement for a doctor to have specialist registration in an area of practice, to work in that area.

We have considered the possibility that doctors without a credential may be limited or disadvantaged, through employer or patient choices. We will monitor this risk as the first credentials are developed and delivered. We will be clear in any communications that doctors with the credential have demonstrated they have met UK approved standards and outcomes in areas prioritised by local patient or service needs, but it is not the only marker of competence. Appraisal and revalidation will continue to reassure patients and employers that all doctors are practising safely, whether they have a credential or not.

We will continue to work with key groups to ensure that patient safety considerations are paramount in developing credentials.