MRCGP: Recorded Consultation Assessment (RCA)

The College RCA group have been developing this guidance to help the training community with the RCA. They continue in development and should not be considered as the final versions, rather as the latest.

However, the College wants to get this information out to the training community as soon as possible so that everyone can understand the direction of travel that the RCA group are taking in their developments.

Download RCA policy and frequently asked questions

Recorded Consultation Assessment Candidate Handbook

The handbook relates to the Recorded Consultation Assessment (RCA) undertaken as an alternative to the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) during the period between June and August 2020 and, if necessary, thereafter if COVID-19 disruption continues or recurs.

It describes the purpose and format of the RCA, and provides information about how to make an application, and how to collect and submit consultations.

New regulations: changes to submissions

The regulations for submissions will change following evaluation of the July/August diet.

The changes will include steps to ensure that the cases submitted broadly cover the curriculum.

There will be changes made to the candidate handbook and frequently asked questions for subsequent diets of the RCA.

Candidates for those diets are encouraged to read the guidance on cases to submit to demonstrate skills and capabilities, consent and examination of patients when preparing for those diets, and to refer to the regulations when they are published.


What is the Recorded Consultation Assessment (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 uses pre-recorded video or audio consultations to provides evidence from a range of encounters in general practice relevant to most parts of the curriculum and also provides an opportunity to target particular aspects of clinical care and expertise.

Format of the RCA

  • The RCA will provide an objective assessment of clinical skills from real life settings provided across 13 consultations and undertaken by the candidate from their own current working environment. Due to the response to the pandemic situation it is likely that the majority of these will be conducted remotely.
  • The RCA will be sat during the ST3 year or beyond of training and recordings will be made during this time.
  • They may be any combination of audio, video or face to face consultations.
  • Cases will be submitted to a central facility - the FourteenFish RCA Platform.
  • Cases submitted should be of an appropriate level of challenge for an ST3 trainee to demonstrate safe and independent practice.
  • These cases will be assessed by trained and calibrated examiners who are experienced GPs.
  • Each consultation will be viewed independently by at least one examiner who will make a global judgement of that consultation, attributing marks in three domains and blind to other marks the candidate receives for that or any other consultation.
  • It is the responsibility of the candidate to obtain consent from the patient under the usual guidance for training and GDPR. This may be on the FourteenFish RCA Platform directly where this is used to record the consultation, written (paper/electronic) or verbally (on camera, the timing of which will not be counted as part of the ten minutes to be assessed or off camera, but a record kept).
  • Recordings submitted for the RCA will be deleted from the central IT platform after the Examination Board has ratified and published results. Material uploaded to the central IT platform but not submitted for the RCA will be deleted after 26 weeks (182 days).
  • Recordings of individual consultations should be continuous.
  • The camera should not be turned off during consultations and recordings must NOT be edited in anyway.

As per RCA Policy and in line with GDPR

  • No candidate should share their recordings for submission or potential submission to the RCA with anyone outside of their own Training Programme.
  • You may not share your recordings in any preparation course for the RCA (Including RCGP preparation Courses).
  • The use of any service to screen cases prior to submission to the RCA is expressly prohibited.

Failure to adhere to this Guidance may result in referral to the GMC.

Clarification on examination of patients in Recorded Clinical Assessment (RCA) submissions - good medical practice.  From 1 September 2020

The RCGP reminds candidates submitting cases for the MRCGP Recorded Clinical Assessment (RCA) about the importance of the dignity of patients and good medical practice. 

A consultation in which clothing equivalent to vest top and shorts, or the ‘swimsuit area’, is removed and captured on a visual recording must not be submitted for assessment.

If a consultation is submitted, where this guidance is breached, examiners have been advised that they should not continue to watch or assess it, and no marks will be awarded for that consultation. 

RCA consultations

The aim of the RCA is to test a doctor's ability to gather information and apply learned understanding of disease processes and person-centred care appropriately in a primary care context, make evidence-based decisions, and communicate effectively with patients and colleagues. Being able to integrate these skills effectively is a key element of this assessment 

The RCA focuses on testing the same areas of the GP curriculum (2018) as the CSA and as outlined on the How training progress is assessed page [818 KB PDF].

Specifically:

Knowing yourself and relating to others

  • Develop the attitudes and behaviours expected of a good doctor
  • Treat others fairly and with respect
  • Provide care with compassion and kindness
  • Establish an effective partnership with patients
  • Maintain a continuing relationship with patients, carers and families.

Applying clinical knowledge and skill

  • Apply a structured approach to data gathering and investigation
  • Interpret findings accurately to reach a diagnosis
  • Demonstrate a proficient approach to clinical examination
  • Adopt appropriate decision making principles
  • Apply a scientific and evidence-based approach
  • Provide general clinical care to patients of all ages and backgrounds;
  • Adopt a structured approach to clinical management
  • Make appropriate use of other professionals and services
  • Provide urgent care when needed

Managing complex and long-term care

  • Enable people living with long-term conditions to improve their health
  • Manage concurrent health problems in an individual patient
  • Adopt safe and effective approaches for patients with complex health needs
  • Work as an effective team member coordinating a team-based approach to the care of patients.

Caring for the whole person and wider community

  • Demonstrate the holistic mindset of a generalist medical practitioner
  • Support people through individual experiences of health, illness and recovery; Understand the health service and your role within it.

Guidance on cases to submit

Updated 14 September 2020

This guidance is offered to encourage candidates to demonstrate their skills across a breadth of the curriculum and General Practice which would normally be selected for you in the CSA. It is not an exclusive list, nor do you have to consult with every example listed. However, the best way to ensure you demonstrate your skills across a breadth of the curriculum is by including a wide range of different consultations.

Mandatory Case selection criteria for RCA from November 2020

In response to trainee feedback requesting further guidance on case submission, and learning from the emergency Recorded Consultation Assessment (RCA) diets, mandated and recommended case criteria have been developed. A wider range of clinical topics allows a better review of candidates’ global capability and therefore provides better evidence on which to make a judgement of their readiness for independent practice as a GP. It is easier for candidates to gain marks and for the examiners to see candidates’ level of skill if a range of cases of a suitable, but not overly complex nature is submitted.

Read our guidance on case submission 

We would suggest where possible you utilise new patient contacts rather than follow up patients as these are more likely to allow you to demonstrate your competence in consultation skills. Whilst it is recognised that many of the patients will have been triaged before the consultation begins, you should at the very least check with the patient whether your understanding of that triage process and its outcome aligns with theirs. Patients' stories and/or their needs frequently change between triage and consultation.

Your workbook will help you check the variety in your submission, for example:

Table to check the variety in your submission

The 2018 GP curriculum and topic guides can be found on the RCGP website.

For reference please review the clinical topic areas as set out in the curriculum.

Topic guides about professional issues:

  • Consulting in general practice
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Evidence-based practice, research and sharing knowledge
  • Improving quality, safety and prescribing
  • Leadership and management
  • Urgent and unscheduled care

Topic guides about life stages:

  • Children and young people
  • Reproductive health and maternity
  • People living with long-term conditions including cancer
  • Older adults 
  • People at the end of life. 

Topic guides about clinical topics:

  • Allergy and immunology
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Dermatology
  • Ear, nose and throat (ENT), speech and hearing
  • Eyes and vision
  • Gastroenterology
  • Genomic medicine
  • Gynaecology and breast
  • Haematology
  • Infectious disease and travel health
  • Kidney and urology
  • Mental health
  • Metabolic problems and endocrinology
  • Musculoskeletal health
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders, intellectual and social disability
  • Neurology
  • Population health
  • Respiratory health
  • Sexual health
  • Smoking, alcohol and substance misuse.

You should use the full breadth of the curriculum topic guide areas in preparing recordings for submission. However, the RCA handbook currently contains only the clinical topic guide headings. If your consultation does not match one of these headings, there is the option to choose ‘other’. Please ensure you enter a short description of the case.

Low challenge cases are unlikely to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your consultation skills fully and will make it difficult for examiners to find evidence to meet the required performance criteria.

Examples of low challenge consultations might include simple lower urinary tract infections, straightforward skin conditions such as viral warts, uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infections and some follow up consultations.

However, any of these apparently low challenge cases can become more complex if, for example, significant psychosocial factors become apparent during the consultation. In general, more complex consultations are likely to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your consultation skills fully and meet the performance criteria required.

Examples of complex consultations might include consultations with patients who are new to you, those with a significant psychosocial component, patients presenting with more than one problem, patients with multimorbidity, and consultations with more than one person.

Please note:

  • It is the responsibility of the candidate to be aware of the deadline for submission of cases and to work within this to make their submission in good time.
  • It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure the consultation recordings submitted are of good quality in sound and picture.
  • It is preferable in video or face to face consultations that the face of both the patient and the doctor are visible.

Clarification on examination of patients in Recorded Clinical Assessment (RCA) submissions - good medical practice. From 1 September 2020

The RCGP reminds candidates submitting cases for the MRCGP Recorded Clinical Assessment (RCA) about the importance of the dignity of patients and good medical practice. 

A consultation in which clothing equivalent to vest top and shorts, or the ‘swimsuit area’, is removed and captured on a visual recording must not be submitted for assessment.

If a consultation is submitted, where this guidance is breached, examiners have been advised that they should not continue to watch or assess it, and no marks will be awarded for that consultation. 

Guidance on consent

Each consultation that is recorded must be done with the informed consent of the patient and there should be no coercion. Informed consent must be sought before the consultation takes place, but it must also be confirmed after the consultation is over.

MRCGP RCA guidance and proforma consent form: Patient consent for recording of telephone and video consultations in general practice settings (766 KB PDF).

Delivery of the RCA

You will book for the RCA via the RCGP website. Once your booking is confirmed by the RCGP Examination Department you will be provided with a link to access the FourteenFish RCA platform on to which you will be able to submit recordings, or record directly.

The platform contains clear guidance about its functionality and how you can use the system to directly contact the patient and link to your chosen mode for example, mobile telephone. You will be able to upload a variety of recorded file formats to the platform. Recording of your consultations can, therefore, begin immediately.

Apply for the RCA

Apply for the RCA exam

You and your Educational or Clinical supervisor will need to verify your identity and that the patients recorded are from genuine consultations within your approved general practice environment.

Please note:

  • The RCA in July is available to trainees due to CCT on or before 30 September 2020. The platform has been designed to check the eligibility of applicants for this extra-ordinary sitting dependent upon their scheduled date to CCT. If you are in any doubt, please clarify this with your Educational supervisor or TPD.
  • Access to FourteenFish is currently limited to trainees who receive the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) on or before 30 September 2020. This is to ensure that the new system is able to deal with those soon to complete training. After the July assessment, there will be clarification on the timing of future access.

Dates for applications, examinations and results

 For dates of application review the RCA section of the MRCGP exam applications.

 

Declaring a disability or requesting special adjustments

Specific Learning Difficulties, such as dyslexia, may qualify for extra time in written exams like the Applied Knowledge Test where a candidate is expected to read and assimilate a lot of information in a limited time. 

The Recorded Consultation Assessment does not restrict the time for reading case notes or information in advance of recording the consultation. 

Adjustments in the time allowed, for dyslexia alone, are not usually eligible to be considered for a reasonable adjustment. 

It is not the responsibility of the RCGP to make reasonable adjustments for candidates’ consultations in the workplace. Candidates should liaise with the GP training practice or their employers about adjustments.

Complete a reasonable adjustment request form including the adjustments made in the workplace already with additional adjustments you would like made. Please refer to the guidance below before submitting your request.

Preparing for the RCA

The best preparation for the RCA is experience in general practice and seeing patients. You will have evidence of your progression from your WPBA observations such as COTs and CBDs and from feedback from your Clinical and Educational Supervisors.

As the RCA is designed to assess the same competences as the CSA it is anticipated that the same factors will affect candidates' performance in the RCA.

Find guidance for educators in Top tips to help your trainee prepare for the RCA: an educator's guide.

RCA marking

Each consultation will be viewed independently by at least one examiner who will make a global judgement of that consultation, attributing marks in three domains - data gathering, clinical management and interpersonal skills.

Each domain will earn a grade of Clear Pass / Pass / Fail or Clear Fail.

The first ten minutes of the consultation submitted will be assessed. This time will not include any time for verbal consent that is recorded.

There may be allowance made for needing to leave the room for example, to collect a urine bottle, but the time taken for examinations will be part of that ten minutes. The camera should run continuously and not be turned off during the consultation submitted.

Generic Grade Descriptors - updated 11 September 2020

Clear Pass

The candidate demonstrates a high level of competence, with a justifiable clinical approach that is fluent, appropriately focussed and technically proficient.

There is sufficient evidence provided to demonstrate capability in this domain.

The candidate shows sensitivity, actively shares ideas and may empower the patient

Pass

The candidate demonstrates an adequate level of competence, with a clinical approach that may not be fluent but is justifiable and technically proficient. The lack of complexity in the case presented restricts the achievement of a Clear Pass grade.

The candidate shows sensitivity and tries to involve the patient.

Fail

The candidate fails to demonstrate adequate competence, with a clinical approach that is at times unsystematic or inconsistent with accepted practice. Technical proficiency may be of concern.

There is limited (new) evidence provided to demonstrate capability of a doctor sufficient for safe independent UK General Practice.

The patient is treated with sensitivity and respect, but the doctor does not sufficiently facilitate or respond to the patient’s contribution.

Clear Fail

The candidate clearly fails to demonstrate competence, with a clinical approach that is incompatible with accepted practice, arbitrary or technically incompetent. 

There is no evidence or very limited evidence provided to demonstrate capability of a doctor sufficient for safe independent UK General Practice in this domain.

The patient is not treated with adequate attention, sensitivity or respect for their contribution.

Marking Scheme - updated 11 September 2020

I. Data Gathering, Technical and Assessment Skills

  1. Takes a focussed history to allow for a safe assessment to take place
  2. Elicits and develops relevant new information
  3. Rules in or out serious or significant disease
  4. Considers and/or generates any appropriate diagnostic hypotheses
  5. Explores where appropriate the impact and psychosocial context of the presenting problem
  6. Plans, explains and where possible, performs appropriate physical/mental examinations and tests
  7. Appears to recognise the issues or priorities in the consultation

II. Decision Making and Clinical Management Skills

  1. Appears to make a safe and appropriate working diagnosis/es
  2. Offers appropriate and safe management options for the presenting problem
  3. Where possible, makes evidence-based decisions re prescribing, referral and co-ordinating care with other health care professionals
  4. Makes appropriate use of time and resources whilst attending to risks
  5. Provides safety netting and follow up instructions appropriate to the nature of the consultation

III. Interpersonal Skills

  1. Encourages the patient's contribution, identifying and responding to cues appropriate to the consultation
  2. Explores where appropriate, patient’s agenda, health beliefs & preferences
  3. Offers the opportunity to be involved in significant management decisions reaching a shared understanding
  4. When undertaken, explains and conducts examinations with sensitivity and obtains valid consent
  5. Provides explanations that are relevant, necessary and understandable to the patient

Video/audio recording and workbook

You are responsible for obtaining informed consent from patients, obtaining sign-off from your Clinical or Educational Supervisor and verification that the submission is your own work. You are responsible for ensuring that consultations are uploaded to the FourteenFish RCA platform by the published due date.

You are responsible for checking the quality of sound and picture of all the consultations you choose to submit.

Guidance on recording consultations, consent and the short summary workbook are described in the relevant sections above.

RCA results and feedback

The result of your examination along with any formative feedback will be published in your ePortfolio on the date given in the table on the Recorded Consultation Assessment tool page.

Feedback Statements - updated 11 September 2020

Global

  1. Disorganised and or Unstructured Consultation
  2. Does not recognise the issues or priorities in the consultation
  3. Shows poor Time Management
  4. Poor choice of consultation: Does not demonstrate capability in consulting skills sufficient for independent UK General Practice

Data Gathering, technical and assessment skills  

  1. Insufficient evidence of Data Gathering skills to demonstrate capability of safe independent UK General Practice
  2. Inadequate history taken to enable safe assessment of disease and its severity
  3. Does not elicit and develop adequate amounts of new information to demonstrate competence
  4. Does not consider and/or test an adequate range of Differential Diagnoses
  5. Does not identify or use appropriate Psychological or Social information to place the problem in context
  6. Does not offer/undertake appropriate Physical/Mental examination as part of the diagnostic process
  7. Does not recognise the implications of any abnormal findings or results

Decision Making and Clinical Management

  1. Insufficient evidence of Decision Making and Clinical Management skills to demonstrate capability of safe independent UK General Practice
  2. Does not identify an appropriate range of Differential Diagnoses and/or form a reasoned Working Diagnosis
  3. Does not develop a Management Plan (including prescribing and referral) reflecting knowledge of current best practice
  4. The choice of management was unclear due to missing information
  5. Does not demonstrate an awareness of management of risk or make the patient aware of relative risks of different options
  6. Does not show appropriate use of resources, including aspects of budgetary governance
  7. Does not make adequate arrangements for follow-up and safety netting

Interpersonal Skills

  1. Insufficient evidence of Interpersonal skills to demonstrate capability of safe independent UK General Practice
  2. Does not demonstrate active listening skills, limited exploration and use of cues
  3. Does not develop a shared understanding, demonstrating an ability to work in partnership with the patient
  4. Does not acknowledge or utilise the patient’s contribution to the consultation including consent
  5. Does not use language and/or explanations that are relevant and understandable to the patient

Does not treat the patient with appropriate respect and/or sensitivity during the consultation

Complaints, Reviews and Appeals

For detailed information on complaints, reviews and appeals please refer to the RCA policy document and the MRCGP regulations, reviews, appeals, complaints and mitigating circumstances.

Contact us

Tel: 0203 188 7660
Email: exams@rcgp.org.uk

Data protection impact assessment procedure

Read our Data Protection Impact Assessment Procedure for gaining consent, recording, and examining consultations for the new Recorded Consultation Assessment

 

 

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