Training and Curriculum Update

Published: 05/05/2021

Training and Curriculum Update

The College recognises the disappointing situation that many of our members and Anaesthetists in Training are currently faced with following the recent issuing of ST3 and CT1 interviews outcomes. We are aware that many will have been unsuccessful in their applications.

The total number of training posts is set by the Statutory Education Bodies in the UK; Health Education England (HEE), NHS Education Scotland, Health Education and Improvement Wales and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, making use of funds allocated by central government.

The College has long recognised the shortage of fully trained anaesthetists in the UK, with our most recent Medical Workforce Census 2020 demonstrating high, and increasing vacancy rates in our specialty. Using this and other information, we have continued to advocate for an increase in UK anaesthetic training capacity to address this shortfall. As an example of this, the College is currently working on a large influencing campaign called Anaesthesia – fit for the future to gather data and develop a plan for how best the NHS could fill the gap in the anaesthetic workforce and address the retention challenge. We make a further call that the recent recruitment round is evidence that there should be an increase in higher posts in anaesthetics.

We also recognise that there has been an exceptional increase in the number of applicants for anaesthetic posts this year. While the number of available training posts has not reduced, the number of applicants for each post has increased significantly. Many of the recently unsuccessful ST3 applicants will now find employment in posts not officially recognised for training, we have developed guidance for how the experience gained in these posts may contribute to CCT.

2021 Anaesthetics Curriculum

We also understand that the GMC-mandated implementation of the 2021 Anaesthetics Curriculum is adding to the uncertainty for some of our members. The College feels that further delaying the introduction of the new curriculum would cause further disruption and uncertainty for more of our members as it would mean a longer wait until the improvements designed into the new curriculum can benefit UK anaesthetic training. We believe the increased flexibility introduced into this new curriculum will allow members who were unsuccessful during this recruitment round to evidence their progress outside of approved training posts and have this experience count towards future training and their CCT date. Therefore, in principle, even members who were unsuccessful in ST3 recruitment may be able to obtain a CCT sooner than they would have been able to with the 2010 Curriculum.  Finally, the changes to anaesthetic training have to fit with changes to other curricula, namely ACCS, Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care Medicine, meaning that postponing the transition would not be feasible.

Advocating for increases in the anaesthetic workforce

The College understands that these are complex issues that impact our members’ professional and personal lives. This is why we will continue to engage with HEE and devolved nation Statutory Education Bodies on behalf of our members to increase the number of training posts. Further information and support is available from your College representatives. Members of the College’s Anaesthetists in Training Committee are also available for support.

Two-way dialogue

The College is keen to hear directly from Anaesthetists in Training members and Trainers regarding recruitment, examinations and the implementation of the 2021 Anaesthetics Curriculum. We are also keen to provide as much information as possible for everyone involved in training and developing the workforce. We are therefore committing to running a series of interactive webinars to share information on these issues and we’ll shortly share ways of contributing.  Information on this will be sent out via the College’s social media channels (Twitter and Facebook), emails and newsletters.

Professor Ravi Mahajan, President, RCoA

Dr Chris Carey, Chair, RCoA Education, Training and Examinations Board

Dr Helgi Johannsson, Chair, RCoA Communications and External Affairs Board