Background to the review

Good medical education is essential to good medical practice. There is much in UK medical education and training to be positive about.

The GMC’s 2011 national survey of trainees showed that nearly 90% of those approaching the end of their training were confident about taking up a new role as a specialist or GP.

In recent years, there have been significant developments in UK medical education and training, following recommendations made in a number of seminal reports.

However, those reports have also pointed to the need for further reform if medical education and training is to support and respond to society’s changing needs.

Recent reports

In 2007, the independent inquiry into Modernising Medical Careers, led by Sir John Tooke, made a number of recommendations about the shape and structure of postgraduate medical education and training in the UK.

It called for a more flexible and broad based approach to medical training; integrating both training and service objectives into workforce planning.

The inquiry also raised profound issues about the role of trainees, SAS doctors and consultants within the health service and the implications of the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) on training and practice.

Following on from Tooke, other inquiries also highlighted the need to develop the current structure of postgraduate medical training so it continues to provide consistent, high quality training for doctors throughout the UK.

They too have pointed to the need for more flexibility in training in order to equip doctors to respond better to the changing needs of patients and the service.

Establishing the Shape of Training review

In 2011, Medical Education England (MEE) identified issues facing the future of postgraduate medical training (Phase 1). A steering group scoped out key themes for a review of the structure or shape of postgraduate medical education and training.

These included looking at

  • the tensions between the needs of the service and the demands of training;
  • the balance between generalist and specialist care;
  • flexibility and value for money; and
  • the need for innovation set against the risks of de-stabilisation if present arrangements were changed.

In May 2011, the Steering Group agreed that further work on the shape of training was necessary and should be taken forward, led by an independent chair. David Greenaway was appointed in February 2012.