To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made with the implementation of the specialist medical training reforms recommended by the chief medical officer's working party on specialist medical training. 
In November 1993, my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Health announced that the Government accepted in principle the recommendations made by the working party on specialist medical training chaired by the chief medical officer. In accordance with the time scale set out in the report, the new specialist registrar grade will be launched on 1 December 1995 in the two vanguard specialties of general surgery and diagnostic radiology. The main specialty commissioning date will be 1 April 1996 and I envisage that all specialties will have begun the transition process to the new grade by 1 April 1997. Detailed guidance will be issued to the national health service shortly to enable the regional deans of postgraduate medicine to spearhead the changes in training programmes needed to deliver the specialist training curricula recently formulated by the medical royal colleges.Training standards will be overseen by the new specialist training authority of the medical royal colleges, shortly to be established. As well as maintaining standards, the specialist training authority will be responsible for awarding the new certificates of completion of specialist training. These will for the first time provide the defined end point for specialist training required to ensure that all those competing for NHS consultant posts have completed their training properly. Obtaining the CCST will entitle the fully trained doctor to be admitted to the specialist register, which will be kept by the General Medical Council. There will be other routes to the specialist register, for existing NHS consultants as part of the transitional process and for doctors who have followed an unconventional but acceptable training pathway, possibly via research or academic medicine involving a high degree of specialisation at an early stage of training. The GMC will continue to have the statutory duty of co-ordinating all stages of medical education.I have considered the resource implications of these changes carefully; while there is no need for any overall increase in NHS funds to pay for them, I am considering the need for some short-term investment in additional training programmes to enable trusts to be able to recruit extra consultants. Decisions will be announced later at the appropriate point in the general NHS allocation process.