Message to all RCGP Associates in Training

Dear Colleague

We are writing to offer you some guidance and information about how the current Covid-19 pandemic will be impacting on you and your GP training programme.

This is uncharted territory for all of us.  We understand that you are working incredibly hard and your main focus at the moment will be to support your patients and colleagues in practice, and that you will also be concerned about how this disruption to normal service will impact on your training programme and your ability to progress through training as planned.  We are also aware that, like the rest of the country, you will be juggling extra commitments at home, such as unplanned childcare needs, and looking after the health and wellbeing of your family members as well as yourself.

You may be aware that the remaining March Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) after March 18 were cancelled, as well as the planned CSA exams in April and May. We have also cancelled the sitting of the Applied Knowledge Test that was scheduled for April. The GP examiners and the exams staff put in a huge amount of effort to try to run the CSA for as long as we could in order to get as many trainees through as possible. However, the exceptional demands of GP practices, as well as the numbers of examiners and role-players falling ill or needing to self-isolate, made it impossible to run the exam.

We also had to consider the increasingly strong public health directives across the UK giving advice not to travel, and also for doctors to put all their efforts into patient care at this time of crisis. Although it will be challenging, we fully intend to reschedule all these examinations and will ensure that every trainee who needs to sit these examinations is able to. We don’t know yet when this will be but can assure you will arrange them as soon as possible, and we will work closely with deaneries to plan the timing of this. This is a continually changing and evolving situation and we will endeavour to keep you informed of any decisions or news as we have it.

The current guidance is that ARCP panels will be going ahead in the summer. To enable as many ST3 trainees to complete training and enter the workforce we are working with others to review what the WPBA requirements might be given the challenges there will be to complete assessments in the next months.

We know you will be anxious about what will happen if you have not completed all components of the MRCGP by the time your training finishes.  We are not, as the RCGP, able to decide this by ourselves and so are working with the GMC, and the training provider organisations in the four nations to agree a process for managing this difficult situation.  This information will be communicated to you as soon as a decision has been made.

The RCGP understands the immense pressure that you, as well as your trainers, are under right now, and that you will be facing clinical and professional challenges for which you may not feel prepared.  We’re devoting every effort into working with your deaneries to ensure that your training and exam preparation remains a priority.  To support you at this challenging and difficult time the College is creating a range of resources to help all primary care clinicians to manage the challenges created by Covid-19 and we would encourage you to look at these for guidance and advice.

We have heard how trainees are stepping up to this crisis and we are immensely proud of your continued dedication and professionalism as Members of our College. However, we appreciate that the coming months will be a time of immense change and potential stress for everyone working in healthcare. At such times it is more important than ever that we look out for and support one another. Remember to take time for yourself and others and if you are struggling please do seek support. We have a range of resources and organisations who may be able to help on our wellbeing pages. Please continue to feedback your concerns and suggestions through your AiT reps, as even at this difficult time we want to continue to hear from and to listen to the voice of our trainees.

With kind regards

Dr Michael Mulholland
Vice Chair, Professional Development

Dr MeiLing Denney
Chief Examiner

 

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