Notification of changes to regulations regarding the MFPH examinations

Following recent General Medical Council (GMC) guidance, the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has agreed to impose a ceiling of six attempts on all MFPH examinations and a validity period of seven years on all The Faculty of Public Health Diplomate examination (DFPH).


In January 2012, the GMC published a statement indicating that a candidate’s attempt at each part of an examination should be limited to six and the validity period of an individual component of an examination limited to seven years. The original GMC statement.

Following a period of consultation with various FPH committees, including representatives of the Specialty Registrars Committee, the FPH Board agreed to impose a limit of six attempts on all examinations and a validity period of seven years on all DFPH passes. The agreed date for implementation is 1 June 2013 when the full policy will come into effect. All examinations following this date will be subject to this regulatory change. 

These limits will apply irrespective of whether an individual is in an approved specialty training scheme.  Specialty training schemes will continue to require satisfactory progress in training.  These requirements may demand success within fewer examination attempts, and within shorter timescales between the DFPH and OSPHE examinations, than the new FPH policy.

Policy details

1. From 1 June 2013, no candidate will normally be permitted more than six attempts at either the DFPH or MFPH examinations without providing evidence of additional educational experience. The ratification of the evidence for the additional educational experience must come from a third party, for example a training programme director.

2. For DFPH, the attempt limit will include attempts when a paper has been banked. 

3. Once the DFPH exam has been passed, no candidate will be permitted more than seven years to pass the MFPH exam. The seven-year validity period will be calculated from the date that a candidate passes the DFPH exam. Should a candidate fail to achieve a MFPH pass within the seven-year limit, they will be required to take the DFPH again. 

4. The attempt limit and validity period will apply not only to new candidates but also to existing candidates currently within the system. The policy will apply to all candidates irrespective of whether they are on a training programme or not. 

5. A candidate who withdraws or is absent from an exam will not have that attempt registered.

6. The new ruling imposes an upper limit and not an entitlement to sit either examination six times regardless of other considerations around timely progression through training.

Next Steps

The FPH Education Committee is currently considering examples of what additional educational experience may count as evidence for additional attempts. This information will be published as soon as it has been finalised.

Specialty registrars are currently being emailed individually and notified of their status. Training programme directors are also being contacted and notified of the status of specialty registrars in their region. Specialty registrars should consult with their training programme directors or a member of the FPH examinations team if they have any further questions.

Written: 13/07/2012 , last modified: 19/09/2012