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New blueprint for better medical training unveiled

Health leaders have been told there needs to be a radical overhaul of training to make it more flexible for trainees and better equip doctors, following an internal review. 

The Secretary of State for Health asked us to carry out a review of our plan for training during the contract dispute in 2016. This review was conducted amongst trainees, trainers, patients and medical colleges and faculties. 

We were told the current approach to training is out of date and in urgent need of reform. The inflexible approach to postgraduate training is caused partly by the complexity of training structures which need to be revised to enable change. 

"We are ideally placed to drive these changes forward but we cannot deliver more flexibility and choice for doctors on our own. We need all bodies involved in the delivery of UK medical education to work with us and be as determined as we are to deliver this ambitious vision."

Charlie Massey

GMC Chief Executive

Making a meaningful difference to doctors lives

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive, said: ‘The way that medical training has developed in the last 30 years has contributed to the low morale that doctors in training continue to experience.

‘The actions that we set out in our report can make a meaningful difference to the professional lives of doctors and the choices they make about their careers. But ultimately it is patients who will benefit the most from these changes.

‘We are ideally placed to drive these changes forward but we cannot deliver more flexibility and choice for doctors on our own. We need all bodies involved in the delivery of UK medical education to work with us and be as determined as we are to deliver this ambitious vision.

‘If postgraduate training in the UK looks the same in five years’ time, then we will have failed trainees and we will have failed patients.’

Five key barriers to improving training flexibility:

  • Transferring between specialties is difficult without doctors going back to the start – often referred to as the ‘snakes and ladders’ effect. This is caused by the complex legal framework controlling UK postgraduate training
  • Training in other ways is not recognised – work overseas and experience gained in non-training grade posts are not counted;
  • More career support is needed to help doctors who want to refocus their training without starting from square one;
  • Postgraduate training is slow to adapt to changes in patient demand
  • Rigid training structures can make rota gaps worse.