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Review of our approach to the quality assurance of medical education and training

The final report of the review of our arrangements for quality assuring medical education and training (pdf) was endorsed by Council in February 2014, following the review which we undertook during 2012/13.

Our Education Strategy 2011-2013 (pdf) committed us to a comprehensive review of our approach to quality assuring medical education and training, and Council endorsed proposals for the review in June 2011 (pdf).

This was in recognition of the challenges of a changing environment and the opportunities brought about by the merger of PMETB with the GMC in 2010, when we became responsible for the quality assurance (QA) of all stages of medical education and training.

The terms of reference for the review (pdf) outlined what the review would cover.

Conclusions of the review

The final report makes recommendations for several areas of the QA process:

  • a new approach to the standards for the delivery of education and training
  • a fuller suite of escalating regulatory sanctions for when core standards are not being met or are at risk of not being met
  • a new approach to annual specialty reports and the role of specialty external advisors, and to the role of the colleges in QA visits and reports
  • a new pattern to QA visits involving both a fixed programme of announced visits and smaller check visits in response to identified risks
  • transparent and accessible reporting showing risk profiles of organisations and how evidence has been triangulated to form QA judgements
  • working with other regulators for better information sharing and holistic solutions, and to ease regulatory burden on providers while bringing greater pressure to meet standards.

What we will do next

We have already begun to act on opportunities for change arising from the review and from internal monitoring, so some of the review’s recommendations are already being put in place.

Some of the recommendations will require further developmental work, and we will seek legislative reform or public consultation where necessary.

We consulted on some of the review’s recommendations as part of the review of education and training standards. That review has now completed and we published the new standards in July 2015.

The review

We began the review in 2012 with the commissioning of independent research into how regulators in the UK and overseas undertake quality assurance (QA) and followed this by gathering views at stakeholder workshops across the UK. We then produced a series of discussion papers developing key themes and testing recommendations, which we shared with the medical royal colleges, deaneries/HEE regions and others, and circulated widely for comment.

Quality assurance review workshops June 2012

We held a series of stakeholder workshops in Edinburgh, London and Manchester in June 2012 to gather ideas about how our QA arrangements should operate in the future. This included identifying what currently works well and what might need to change.

Participants discussed a number of themes which are being considered during the review, covering:

  • the use of evidence in the QA process
  • the role of the visits in the QA process
  • the role of the medical Royal Colleges in the QA process
  • measuring quality outcomes
  • reporting QA outcomes.

Read the report of the comments made and ideas that emerged during the three workshops (pdf).

Discussion papers

In October 2012 we held a workshop to consider the future role of the medical royal colleges and faculties within the GMC's Quality Improvement Framework.

Read the paper that was prepared to help inform and stimulate discussion: The Role of the Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Quality Assurance, Quality Management and Quality Control (pdf).

Read the summary report setting out the comments made and ideas that emerged during the workshop: Quality Assurance Review Workshop 9 October 2012: The Role of the Medical Royal Colleges and faculties in Quality Assurance, Quality Management and Quality Control (pdf).

Following the workshop with the colleges we wrote to the colleges about three specific areas we wish to follow up: QA review workshop follow-up (pdf).

Reporting the findings of QA activity: options for discussion (pdf) explores ideas for improving the transparency and accessibility of our reporting mechanisms.

The terms of reference for our QA review state that education and training are more likely to be effective when delivered in environments where they are valued. A discussion paper Approving educational environments (pdf) considers whether our QA system should include approval of the environments within which education and training take place and, if so, the form that any such approval might take.

Another key part of the QA process is the inspection of sites which manage and deliver education and training. A discussion paper on QA inspections (pdf) explores some ideas for how we might approach this in the future.

Research to support the review

To help inform the work of the review we commissioned research into how medical education (and education more generally) is quality assured by other bodies. The research was undertaken on our behalf by Colin Wright and Associates and ran until March 2012.

The research combined a literature review and a series of in-depth discussions with organisations that have a role in quality assuring the provision of education and training.

Read the research report from Colin Wright and Associates.

Contact us

If you have any questions or comments about the review, please contact us at quality@gmc-uk.org.