2021/2 UK PACES candidate information

8 Apr 2021

Spaces

As a result of the adaptations to the PACES carousel, social distancing and infection control measures we have had to introduce during the pandemic to ensure the safety of all candidates, examiners and assessment staff, it is not currently possible to offer the same number of PACES spaces the three Royal Colleges of Physicians would offer during a normal diet. We are limited both by the availability of clinical space that is appropriate for the adapted carousel, and the reduced number of candidates we can examine in a day.

In centres that can deliver the adapted carousel we are currently limited to 12 candidates per day, instead of our usual 15-30 candidates, depending on the centre.

However, the three College examination offices continue to work extremely hard with PACES hosts to maximise capacity.

Prioritisation

We will be allocating spaces against the set of prioritisation criteria published on the MRCP(UK) website. Due to the low number of spaces available exceptions cannot be made.

Assessment of which categories candidates fall into will be based on self-declared data from applications checked against national training data.

Candidates who believe they have been mis-categorised will have the opportunity to have their categorisation group reviewed before PACES spaces are allocated. Guidance on how to raise a concern will be provided following the application period.

Centre allocation

During the pandemic we will endeavour to allocate you to a centre which is geographically close to your home address. However, due to the limited number of spaces on any given date, or in any given location, this may not always be possible. Locations and dates of centres will change from diet to diet.

If candidates anticipate any difficulties with travel, please provide details of this on your application form under the ‘special requests’ section.

In some circumstances, even where a ‘special request’ has been made, we may not be able to accommodate exact wishes, as the spread of PACES locations and dates are not always within our control.

During the application process candidates will be asked to select a College of Entry. Each of the three Royal Colleges of Physicians deliver PACES through centres spread across the UK. Prioritisation of candidates is applied equally to all applications, regardless of the College applied to. This is to ensure

that the system of allocation is as fair as possible. In some circumstances you may be allocated a space through a College you did not originally apply to. If this is the case, you will receive a notification of which College your application has been transferred to.

Provisional Applications

When the application window for the next diet of PACES (diet 2, 2021) opens, we recognise that some candidates will be awaiting their results from the previous diet. In this circumstance, candidates should apply for the next diet and if they subsequently find out that they have passed a full refund, where relevant, will be issued and their application withdrawn.

For diet 2, candidates will not be asked for payment on application. Payment instructions will be issued following allocation of spaces. Candidates who have submitted provisional applications will not be asked to pay for diet 2 until results have been released for the current diet.

COVID-19 Antigen testing (Lateral Flow tests)

MRCP(UK) remains committed to the safety of our patients, candidates, examiners, and administrative teams. Accordingly, we are asking candidates and examiners to undertake COVID antigen testing (Lateral Flow Test, LAMP or PCR) within 48 hours of attending one of our UK PACES venues in the upcoming diet commencing April 2021. Almost all UK healthcare staff will have access to, and already be undertaking, regular lateral flow (LFT) or LAMP tests. Candidates and examiners attending our UK venues will again be required to fill in a screening health questionnaire in advance of attending the exam. We will now also ask them to declare that they have undertaken COVID-19 antigen testing and to declare the timing and result of this on the questionnaire. Candidates who cannot access antigen testing either through their workplace or via local authority testing should contact, at the earliest opportunity, their College of entry. Examiners who cannot access antigen testing either through their workplace or via local authority testing should also contact the College for which they are examining. However, our principle is that no candidate should be excluded from the exam solely because they cannot access an antigen test.

The screening questionnaire will also ask candidates and examiners if they have received vaccination against COVID-19. Vaccination status will not affect entry to the examination.

Cancellations

The majority of PACES exams take place in NHS clinical settings. The COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on running PACES in these settings.

Decisions made to cancel PACES centres are not taken lightly and are not always up to the Colleges’ discretion. PACES centres are extremely complex to operationally plan, especially during such trialling times, and cannot always be 100% guaranteed to run given that circumstances are constantly changing, and that we can only deal with each new circumstance as and when it arises.

We hope to run as many centres as we can. However, cancellations cannot be ruled out. In the event of your centre being cancelled, we will do our best to reallocate you to another centre during the diet. If this cannot be facilitated, you will be prioritised for a space in the next diet.

We recognise that cancellations are disruptive and cause anxiety for many candidates but the safety of all candidates, administrators, invigilators, and examiners is our pre-eminent concern and will always be our main consideration when making these difficult decisions.

Issuing MRCP(UK) diploma certificates / Verification Letters

Due to COVID-19, there have been limitations imposed on the ability of staff members to access print and postal services, as well as their own offices to resume the physical processing of diplomas. Exams staff are currently following a ‘work from home’ policy and have been doing so since March 2020. We have therefore unfortunately had to halt the processing of diploma certificates until the circumstances change. Therefore, it is unfortunately the case that, given the current circumstances of constantly changing restrictions, we cannot predict when you will receive your diploma. However, please be assured that it will be processed as quickly as possible once we can resume the process.

If you are requesting urgent verification of your membership of your chosen College upon passing all three parts of your MRCP(UK) exam, please ensure you have submitted your Form of Faith for processing at FormofFaith@rcplondon.ac.uk.  

Once we have confirmed that this has been processed, your account will display (MRCP(UK)) next to your name. In replacement of the diploma acting as verification, you may contact us requesting a pass letter at:

Delayed Results

We sincerely apologise for the delay in results processing and appreciate your patience; we are doing everything in our power to release results as soon as possible. We consider results processing to be an essential part of our work and MRCP(UK) staff are therefore processing results in the office every day.

The government restrictions mean that we are working within various limitations. These include a reduction in the number of staff who are available and who can attend the offices at any one time, and delays with couriers transporting mark sheets to and from PACES centres, virtual examiners and MRCP(UK) central office.

We will strive to limit delays and provide results within a maximum of 6 weeks.

To keep up to date with all announcements please click here.  

Feedback

In order to receive your feedback/marksheets, you may email your respective college requesting this feedback, alongside providing your RCP code & the code of the centre in which you sat.

Feedback will not be available until after results have been released and therefore there may be a delay. We normally operate under a maximum of 5 weeks after the results have been released. However, this may be impacted if circumstances are different e.g. if staff cannot access offices to scan marksheets or if marksheets are being investigated.

If you wish to appeal your result upon reviewing your feedback/marksheets, please consult the information on appeals on the MRCP(UK) website and use the Appeals Form provided there. If you have any questions on the appeals process, please email policy.officer@mrcpuk.org.  

Any other queries surrounding feedback can be directed towards:

Please note that the feedback [large file] may sometimes be sent as a 'MimeCast' file. This is safe to use and helps the college send large files via email more easily.