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Background to the approval process

The RCOG Subspecialty Committee has developed subspecialty-specific and generic centre criteria for subspecialty training centre recognition. This page expalis the rationale behind the approval process.

For more information about the criteria and the application process, please read the guidance on applying for subspecialty training centre recognition.


The developmental process has been driven by the General Medical Council (GMC) demand that the RCOG set minimum standards for training across all elements of specialty training, and formerly in response to changes in regulation of postgraduate training (PMETB, 2005), requirement for workforce planning (the RCOG’s Future Workforce in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2007) and the need to clarify the standards for subspecialty training following the introduction of ATSM training (2007).

Medical education and training is a very rapidly changing field, with the publication of the Shape of Training (SoT) review in October 2013. A key area of interest and possible risk from the SoT was where subspecialty training would sit in relation to the CCT. Currently positioned pre-CCT to protect the funding from the eucational levy (MADEL), subspecialty training could in future be pushed beyond the CCT, and hence a new stream of funding would need to be assured. It should be noted that in the RCOG report Tomorrow's Specialist, the majority of doctors in O&G training, and O&G consultants), wanted the post-CCT structure.

The recent review of training in all medical specialties and publication of the SoT report highlights the importance of setting standards for subspecialty training centres now, so the RCOG would work with the GMC as the regulator and those responsible for commissioning training, from a position of agreed standards across all elements of the curriculum.


In summary, the reasons for pursuing this standard setting agreement are:

  • The GMC requires the RCOG to complete this work so training recognition can continue
  • The RCOG needs to be ready to respond to any major changes from SoT
  • Commissioning (or the equivalent) of subspecialty training is likely to change and the economic argument for continued funding must be underpinned by agreed principles for training which include the standards for centres
  • Geographical areas of the UK have the reasonable expectation that, where possible, subspecialty training opportunities will be distributed across the UK to ensure a steady supply of doctors ready to work as consultants

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