A cross-sectional study examining the association between MRCS performance and surgeons receiving sanctions against their medical registration

R. Ellis* (Corresponding Author), J. Cleland, D.S.G. Scrimgeour, A.J. Lee, P.A. Brennan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)



Fitness to practice (FtP) investigations by the General Medical Council (GMC) safeguard patients and maintain the integrity of the medical profession. The likelihood of FtP sanctions is influenced by specialty and socio-demographic factors and can be predicted by performance at postgraduate examinations. This is the first study to characterise the prevalence of FtP sanctions in early-career surgeons and to examine the association with performance at the Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) examination.


All UK graduates who attempted MRCS between September 2007–January 2020 were matched to the GMC list of registered medical practitioners. Clinicians who had active FtP sanctions between 28th August 2018 and 28th August 2020 were identified. Data were anonymised by RCS England prior to analysis.


Of 11,660 candidates who attempted MRCS within the study period, only 31 (0.3%) had FtP sanctions between 2018 and 2020. Of these, 12 had active conditions on registration, seven had undertakings and 14 had warnings. There was no statistically significant difference in MRCS performance in either Parts A or B of the examination for those with and those free from FtP sanctions (P > 0.05).


In this, the largest study of MRCS candidates to date, the prevalence of active FtP sanctions in early-career surgeons was 0.3%, significantly lower than the prevalence of sanctions across more experienced UK surgeons (0.9%). These data highlight early-career surgeons as a low-risk group for disciplinary action and should reassure patients and medical professionals of the rarity of FtP sanctions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-215
Number of pages5
JournalThe Surgeon
Issue number4
Early online date22 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to acknowledge Iain Targett at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, for his help with data collection, and Gregory Ayre and John Hines from the Intercollegiate Committee for Basic Surgical Examinations for their support during this project.


  • surgery
  • medical education & training
  • medical ethics


Dive into the research topics of 'A cross-sectional study examining the association between MRCS performance and surgeons receiving sanctions against their medical registration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this