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Ensure medical exams better reflect the importance of mental health

Last updated: 02:28pm 26 September 2019

we shall ensure medical exams better reflect the importance of this area.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.69

Our verdict

With NHS data showing one in four adults and one in 10 children experiencing mental health conditions, mental illness is recognised as a growing problem. This means medical professionals require updated training to meet the needs of vulnerable patients. The manifesto promised to “ensure” that the increasing importance of mental health is reflected in exams taken by those studying medicine.

In the UK, the official body responsible for medical education standards and medical licensing is the General Medical Council (GMC).  In 2018, the GMC published its new Outcomes for Graduates, which introduced extensive mental health training indicators to assess future doctors. Medical schools have until 2020 to incorporate this into their curricula.

In 2019, the GMC announced consultations on the Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA), a new licensing exam set to be rolled out in 2023. We contacted an MLA spokesperson who anticipated that it will cover psychological principles and the assessment and diagnosis of mental health.

With the GMC’s new medical graduate outcomes set to be implemented in 2020 and the MLA consultations ongoing, medical exams are changing “to better reflect the importance of [mental health]”.

It’s hard to see the hand of government at play here – the GMC is doing the heavy lifting.  We’re adopting a benefit-of-the-doubt approach to this pledge and saying that to “ensure” something happens requires action only if that thing is not happening already. The government has no need to act because by observing the work of the GMC it is assured that this policy is ‘in progress’. It will progress to ‘done’ once implementation at the national scale is complete. We’ll be tracking for independent assessments of medical education, so follow this policy to stay up to date.

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