The organisation representing UK medical schools has called for provisional GMC registration to be scrapped and for students to graduate as fully qualified doctors.
The Medical Schools Council wants UK graduates to bypass the year they need to spend in provisional GMC registration, following concerns about foundation programme oversubscription.
At the moment, students are provisionally registered during the first foundation programme year and need to successfully complete this before they can practise as fully qualified doctors.
But the Medical Schools Council has questioned the value of provisional registration in protecting patients and believes the time has come to re-examine its purpose.
The GMC says it is not against the principle of moving the point of registration but that discussions need to be focused on patients and educational quality rather than supply and demand of doctors.
Period of supervision
BMA medical students committee co-chair Will Seligman said the association would be watching developments closely.
He said: ‘Changing the point at which medical students fully qualify as doctors could have knock-on effects and unanticipated consequences.
‘We want to make sure this has been fully thought through and the BMA fully consulted before any changes take place.’
In the Medical School Council’s annual review, chair Tony Weetman says securing full GMC registration for students is a crucial area of ongoing activity.
He points out that GMC provisional registration was first introduced through the Medical Act in 1950, based on an earlier report that no doctor should be able to become an independent practitioner without a year of supervised practice.
Quality has improved
Professor Weetman says: ‘Over 60 years later, the provisional registration mechanism is still in place, despite huge developments in quality assurance, medical education and training pathways, and we believe the time has come to re-examine the utility and purpose of this pre-registration year.’
The annual report says medical schools feel a sense of obligation to their students to ensure they have the opportunity to achieve full registration.
In a letter to Health Education England director of education and quality Chris Welsh, GMC chair Professor Sir Peter Rubin says the regulator supports the commitment to ensure medical graduates are able to secure full GMC registration.
When it comes to moving GMC registration he adds: ‘We strongly believe the starting point in discussing this issue needs to be what is best for patient safety and the quality of medical education, rather than to balance supply and demand although that is, of course, a very important consideration in its own right.’