Trainees offered Recorded Consultation Assessment in place of Clinical Skills Assessment during COVID-19

19 May 2020

We hope that you are keeping well and staying safe during the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the uncertainty caused for many of you following the cancellation of the MRCGP CSA exam will have been difficult and we appreciate your patience and understanding while options to enable you to progress have been worked through.

We are now in a position to begin to share details of the Recorded Consultation Assessment (RCA), which will be offered in place of the CSA during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19. The development of this assessment has been done at pace in recent weeks, by an RCA Core Group established by the College. Developing this type of assessment is normally a process that would take months to years and so we hope you understand that a few of the final details are still being worked through. As we continue to make progress, we are committed to releasing further timely information and resources to enable you to prepare effectively.

About the RCA

The RCA is a summative assessment of a doctor’s ability to integrate and apply clinical, professional, communication and practical skills appropriate for general practice. It will require candidates to submit 13 recorded consultations, which may be any combination of audio, video or face to face encounters.

These consultations will be recorded directly onto, or submitted onto a single central digital platform – this is currently being developed by FourteenFish following a competitive tendering process. The RCA will be undertaken by candidates in their current working environment, which may include home working. It will provide an objective assessment of their real-life practice, recognising that this will have changed significantly in recent months.

The RCA has been designed to test the same competencies and curriculum areas as the CSA and will be assessed at the same standard. As you will be aware, there are strict legal regulations in place around the standards necessary to allow entry onto the GP register. The college and RCA Core Group has, therefore, worked with the GMC to ensure that the RCA displays the necessary reliability and validity to be approved as equivalent to the CSA. On successful completion of the RCA (along with the AKT and WPBA) you will be awarded the MRCGP and CCT in line with your peers who have previously completed the CSA.

Given the current capacity of our teams and examiner pool, the first session of the RCA will only be available to trainees due to CCT on or before 30 September. Prioritising these trainees will be coordinated by local Deanery and LETB GP Education teams, who will be contacting you to confirm your details. You will need to respond to this contact, otherwise, you may not be considered for prioritisation.

We appreciate that many trainees who are due to CCT soon after this date will also wish to begin preparations for their final assessment and we will be releasing further information on future exam sessions as soon as possible. Any decision to switch between exam formats will be communicated with enough notice to allow for adequate preparation.

We fully appreciate the disruption that has been caused to your training in recent months as a result of the pandemic and that this may impact on your performance in this exam session. Acknowledging this we have decided that, for trainees sitting either the RCA or AKT before 30 September, that any fail will be allowed as an additional attempt to the four normally permitted attempts. This will be for a single attempt of either assessment during this time period only.

Frequently asked questions and updates

We hope the above provides a useful overview of the new RCA. There follows a short FAQ providing additional details regarding the format of the RCA. We will provide further updates as soon as possible and please continue to monitor the exams website for the latest information. Once again, thank you for your patience and for everything that you are doing in the response to COVID-19 and the delivery of care to your patients.

Recorded Consultation Assessment July 2020 Frequently asked questions (116 KB PDF)


Post written by

Dr Michael Mulholland, 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. At the RCGP, he has been part of the GP at scale programme and a GP Forward View Regional Ambassador.

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