Using data and intelligence to support workforce development and promote patient safety

It’s essential that decisions regarding medical practice and education are based on solid evidence. Data can help identify issues and trends, and drive improvements for doctors, medical students and, ultimately, patients.

As the regulator for doctors in the UK, we have a wealth of data on the medical profession and on medical education at our disposal. We are committed to using and sharing our data and intelligence to promote patient safety.

One of the ways we do this is through GMC Data Explorer. The online tool gives easy access to accurate, objective information on the makeup of the medical workforce, trends in medical education, concerns raised with us about patient safety, and more.

In 2018, we increased the capability of GMC Data Explorer so that users can now view statistics about doctors by healthcare authority in each country, county, parliamentary constituency, government office and NHS England/NHS Improvement region. Over 9,000 people used the data tool in 2018, following its launch in April. The main uses of the data were recorded as research and workforce planning.

The tool can be particularly useful for workforce planners and medical schools. For example, the Chair of Education in a Scottish medical school, who is analysing the trends in specialties to help inform the school’s curriculum, said: ‘There is a huge amount of useful information in it which is of interest to medical schools and others. I was particularly interested in finding out what our graduates are doing now in terms of specialty training or registration – as part of our curriculum review we are keen to have an idea of what sort of careers our graduates are choosing.’

We also help to run a groundbreaking data programme – the UK Medical Education Database (UKMED) – which allows researchers to track cohorts of doctors from entry into medical school to postgraduate training and practice. You can read more about this in our Annual report 2018.