WPBA capabilities with IPUs

The Workplace Based Assessment (WPBA) component of the MRCGP exam is designed to test GP trainees’ competence in 13 key areas derived from the core RCGP curriculum statement ‘Being a GP’.

Competence means having the abilities, knowledge and skills necessary for professional practise. Our framework for WPBA is made up of 13 competences:

  1. Communication and consultation skills – communication with patients, and the use of recognised consultation techniques
  2. Practising holistically – operating in physical, psychological, socioeconomic and cultural dimensions, taking into account feelings as well as thoughts
  3. Data gathering and interpretation – for clinical judgement, choice of physical examination and investigations and their interpretation
  4. Making a diagnosis and making decisions – a conscious, structured approach to decision making
  5. Clinical management – recognition and management of common medical conditions in primary care
  6. Managing medical complexity and promoting health – aspects of care beyond managing straightforward problems, including management of co-morbidity, uncertainty, risk and focusing on health rather than just illness
  7. Organisation, management and leadership - an understanding of the use of computer systems to augment the GP consultation and primary care at individual and systems levels, the management of change, and the development of organisational and clinical leadership skills 
  8. Working with colleagues and in teams – working effectively with other professionals to ensure good patient care, including sharing information with colleagues
  9. Community orientation – management of the health and social care of the practice population and local community
  10. Maintaining performance, learning and teaching – maintaining performance and effective CPD for oneself and others
  11. Maintaining an ethical approach to practice – practising ethically, with integrity and a respect for diversity
  12. Fitness to practise – the doctor's awareness of when his/her own performance, conduct or health, or that of others, might put patients at risk, and taking action to protect patients
  13. Clinical examination and procedural skills – competent physical examination of the patient with accurate interpretation of physical signs and the safe practice of procedural skills

WPBA capabilities with IPUs: detailed descriptors [PDF]

Indicators of potential underperformance

The competences framework (CF) developed for the MRCGP from the GP curriculum, is a series of word pictures that describe ‘positive’ behaviours that doctors display in practice.

The CF has now been augmented by selectively adding a number of ‘negative’ behaviours and placing them alongside the themes in the CF to which they are particularly (but not exclusively) related. 

These behavioural descriptors are intended as an additional interpretative tool to make it easier to recognise underperformance, to do so early in training and the material may be used to give constructive feedback to the trainee.

IPU guidance [DOC]

How the WPBA competences are assessed

Competences are assessed by the full range of WPBA tools, allowing you to record multiple perspectives on your performance in the Trainee ePortfolio. It is best practice for each competence to be assessed at different times using different tools and ideally with multiple assessors. In ST3 the trainee is being assessed at the level of a General Practitioner. In ST1 and ST2 the trainee is being assessed at he level of their peers when these are done in hospital posts. During a primary care post in ST1 and ST2 the COT assessment is benchmarked against that of an independent GP.

Competence assessment through WPBA

The table below shows where you’re most likely to find evidence for each competence.

Competence area MSF PSQ COT CbD CEX CSR
1 Communication and consultation skills Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Practising holistically Yes Yes Yes Yes
3 Data gathering and interpretation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
4 Making a diagnosis or decision Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
5 Clinical management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
6 Managing medical complexity Yes Yes Yes
7 Organisation, management and leadership






8 Working with colleagues and in teams Yes





9 Community orientation






10 Maintaining performance, learning and teaching Yes




Yes Yes
11 Maintaining an ethical approach Yes





12 Fitness to practise Yes Yes


13 Clinical examination and procedural skills Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  

Evidence of the competences should reflect the breadth of the curriculum, but it’s not expected that every area of the curriculum will be covered through WPBA. Competences are also tested through the other components of the MRCGP exam - the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA).

Competence assessment through naturally occurring evidence

Use the Trainee ePortfolio to record and validate informal or ‘naturally occurring’ evidence against the competence framework.

For example, you might perform an audit on a specific topic and present it at a practice meeting. This could provide evidence of several competences, including maintaining performance, learning and teaching and communication skills.

Your educational supervisor, trainer or clinical supervisor will create links from naturally occurring evidence to the appropriate competences.

Competence progression over time

Evidence of progress in the WBPA competences areas is gathered throughout the training programme. You’re unlikely to be able to show evidence of full competence at the start of training, but you will gradually build up evidence as time goes on.

As your Trainee ePortfolio begins to demonstrate areas of strength and developmental needs, your trainers will adapt the learning programme to facilitate collection of new evidence.

Rating competence progression

As part of each Educational Supervisors Review (ESR), you and your educational supervisor will rate your progress on each of the 13 competences. Each competence is rated as one of:

  • needs further development (NFD) – below expectations
  • NFD – meets expectations
  • NFD – above expectations
  • competent for licensing
  • excellent 

 WPBA competences and the GP curriculum

The WPBA competences are based on the GP curriculum (see 'Being a GP').

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