Further AKT update

11 January 2021 

Further to Friday’s email about exam arrangements during the latest national lockdowns, we wanted to give you further reassurance about the January 27 AKT exam and to stress that your safety is paramount and that it has been a priority in all our discussions about whether to go ahead.

Our partner organisation Pearson VUE are very conscious of the strict social distancing and hygiene measures necessary and are continually reviewing these, in line with four nation government advice. We would not let this exam go ahead if we hadn’t been assured it was safe.

The views of trainees are integral to all our decisions about the exam. For some trainees, the AKT is the only outstanding requirement before their CCT so they want to go ahead, provided the social distancing and hygiene measures remain rigorous and are reviewed daily.

Trainees who decide now to go ahead are nevertheless still able to defer their sitting at no cost or loss up until 72 hours before the exam date. We fully respect the decision of candidates who wish to defer and are working to put alternative contingency arrangements in place for later in the year. We advise you to discuss your individual circumstances with your Deanery or LETB before reaching a decision.

We continue to work closely with the other Royal Colleges and national stakeholders involved in GP training. Some Royal Colleges are using remote testing but not all.

The MRCGP is different in that it is an ‘exit’ exam for independent practice, rather than a progression exam into further specialist training, and we are unable to offer remote testing at present, primarily due to test security and the need to maintain common standards and fairness for all trainees across sittings. However, we are exploring all options and will continue to work towards the possibility of remote testing in the future.

We are sorry that we do not currently have a remote testing option for ‘shielding’ trainees but will publish further advice about exam sittings once government guidance permits.

We are acutely aware of what a difficult year it has been for you and that the effects of the pandemic will continue to be challenging for you.

Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to ensure there are reasonable solutions and options to support you and help you progress through your training despite these difficult circumstances.

Post written by

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of RCGP Council

Professor Martin Marshall is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a GP in Newham, East London. He is also Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health. Previously he was Programme Director for Population Health and Primary Care at UCLPartners (2014-2019), Director of Research & Development at the Health Foundation (2007-2012), Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Director General in the Department of Health (2006-2007), Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester (2000-2006) and a Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy. 

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine and was a non-executive director of the Care Quality Commission until 2012. He has advised governments in Singapore, Egypt, Canada and New Zealand, has over 230 publications in the field of quality improvement and health service redesign and his primary academic interest is in maximising the impact of research on practice. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Health Care. 

A co-founder and driving force of the Rethinking Medicine movement, Martin has a passionate commitment to the values of the NHS, patient care and ensuring the GP voice is central in a time of great change. When he’s not working, he likes being outside, preferably on a mountain or a coastal path with his wife Sue and their puppy.

Dr Michael Mulholland, RCGP Vice Chair (Professional Development)

Michael Mulholland is a GP at Unity Health, a five-site practice for 22000 patients across the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire border where he has practised for nearly 20 years.  

He also works for Health Education England with roles in GP training, Quality Improvement and workforce planning. Within the RCGP he has been part of the GP at Scale programme and a GP Forward View Regional Ambassador.

He was elected to the post of Vice Chair (Professional Development) in November 2018.

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