GMC unveils new standards to boost flexibility of doctors training

New standards to make postgraduate training more flexible for doctors have today (Monday 22 May) been unveiled by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The standards, detailed in a new document Excellence by design: standards for postgraduate curricula, provide a framework for the approval and provision of postgraduate medical education and training across the UK.

Medical colleges and faculties will update all 103 existing postgraduate medical curricula against the GMC’s new standards, with a target to complete the process by 2020. The GMC, which oversees medical education and training in each of the four UK countries, will approve each curriculum before it’s delivered to doctors.

The GMC says it expects a small number of medical colleges and faculties to seek approval for new curricula during 2017. 

Today’s launch follows the publication, in March, of the GMC’s flexible training review, which identified several problems with the way postgraduate training is currently developed and organised. Trainees face barriers when they want to switch specialty and training cannot adapt quickly to the changing needs of patients. 

Excellence by design marks the first step by the GMC towards putting its seven-point plan, outlined in the review, into action. 
Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said:

‘Our vision for postgraduate training is one that supports the aspirations and commitment of today’s medical professionals to help them meet the needs of patients and the services they receive.

‘The standards we are publishing today will support greater flexibility in postgraduate training. They will give doctors more freedom and choice as their interests in medicine develop, while at the same time meeting the changing patterns in the health needs of patients, ensuring they receive high quality care.’

The GMC’s new standards shift the focus of postgraduate training towards helping doctors achieve high-level learning outcomes. Medical colleges and faculties have begun to work together to identify aspects of training that are similar to, or depend on, content from other specialties.

Integral to the new standards for postgraduate curricula is the new Generic professional capabilities (GPC) framework, also published today by the GMC.
The framework covers the broader areas of professional practice, such as communication and team working, necessary for doctors to provide high quality care.

The GMC and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have jointly produced explanatory guidance to help royal colleges integrate GPC into their updated curricula.

Charlie Massey added:

‘Medical training in the UK is high quality, but as well as producing doctors who are technically proficient it is important they are equipped with the broader professional skills they need to become and stay good professionals. 

‘Developing and honing these skills is something that we believe should continue right the way through a doctor’s career, and something that we want to stimulate as much as possible as part of our ongoing work to champion and support professionalism in medicine.

‘We want to deliver a reformed and reinvigorated system of postgraduate training. We recognise that to do that in full we need the UK government to make the law less restrictive, so that we can be more agile in approving training.

‘We will ask them to address that, and in the meantime we will continue to work with medical colleges and faculties, the four governments across the UK, and other bodies involved in medical education, to deliver a system that will benefit patients as well as doctors.’

Welcoming the new GPC framework, Bill Allum, Chair of the Joint Committee on Surgical Training (JCST), and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ lead for production of GPC implementation guidance for colleges, said:

‘Inclusion of Generic professional capabilities in all curricula will ensure that professionalism receives the priority and emphasis it requires during training, in order to ensure doctors develop the key professional values and behaviours, knowledge and skills required. 

‘Assessment of GPC will also ensure that trainees whose performance gives cause for concern are identified early and supported with appropriate feedback.’