Changes to the MRCP(UK) attainment rules for 2023 recruitment

The date when candidates will need to demonstrate they have passed the examinations required to take up a post has been changed to the time of offer for that vacancy and will take affect from the start of 2023 medical specialty recruitment in November.

This decision has been made by the Medical and Dental Recruitment and Selection (MDRS) Recruitment Group to bring into line the dates for when College and Faculty examinations need to be passed across all recruitment processes

To ensure consistency across physician specialties, this is being applied as the first offers deadline for that round of recruitment, this was 21 April for the first round of 2022 recruitment and is expected to be a similar time in 2023

This means that applicants to physician higher specialty training programmes can continue to apply without the full MRCP(UK) but will have one less diet in which to pass outstanding parts. The derogation applied to Group 2 specialties in 2022, allowing PACES to be completed after starting a higher specialty programme, is not expected to continue and full MRCP(UK) will also be required by the first offers deadline.

Specialties which accept trainees from other pathways (e.g. paediatrics or surgery) are expected to have the same or very similar timescales for completion of the relevant membership examination. Please note that these rules do not apply to non-UK alternatives to the MRCP(UK), which must continue to be completed by time of application.


Allowing candidates until the early August published deadline has meant that applicants and employers are often unclear whether a post can be undertaken until very close to the start date. This can lead to rota gaps which affects employers, other postgraduate doctors in training and also negatively impacts other recruitment candidates who were deemed appointable but not offered a post. 

The Recruitment Group believe this move will help to avoid the situation where a candidate has to withdraw from a post that has been offered and accepted, will allow for more time to secure alternative employment and also prevent rota gaps being generated at short notice. It was also felt that this decision is in the best interests of patient safety as well as employers and candidates. 

The effect on the number of attempts at the examination available to secure a training programme is fully recognised and the decision was made in close consultation with trainee representatives. The lengthening of the core programme for medicine by a year was also considered as core trainees have a longer time available to achieve a pass within the programme.

MRCP(UK) application periods

Applications for the next diet of PACES are open between 18 July and 25 July. All dates for MRCP(UK) examinations can be found on the MRCP(UK) website.

If you would have any questions about this change please contact the Physician Specialty Recruitment Office.