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Review of medical education and training in the south west of England

Press Release

19 Jan 2017

The GMC has published a review of medical education and training in the south west of England.

Our review confirms that, overall, medical students and doctors training in the south west of England are receiving good quality medical education and training.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has published a review of medical education and training in the south west of England.

Overall, it found that medical students and doctors in training are learning in positive and supportive environments but training time becomes squeezed when doctors’ workloads increase. The GMC sets standards to protect education and expects local organisations to meet these.

The report follows a series of quality assurance visits across the region at medical schools and hospitals who train doctors and an assessment of Heath Education England working across the south west which oversees local postgraduate training.

GMC assessors found several examples of good training practice, including students and doctors in training learning about the day-to-day challenges of delivering frontline care. For example:

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is using simulation exercises to help learners identify and address issues that have contributed to adverse events in the past, in a safe environment.
  • Exeter Medical School is involving patients from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds in clinical scenarios to ensure learners are confident in treating a more diverse patient population than is found in the area.
  • Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry is offering placements at GP surgeries that have migrant workers and the travelling community on their lists to help students increase the variety of patients they have contact with.

An annual medical work experience scheme run by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust was also praised by GMC assessors. The programme encourages local students who are interested in studying medicine to spend time in a variety of clinical settings and supports students applying for medical school.

Doctors in training, and those who educate and train doctors, also told visiting GMC assessors about their difficulties and frustrations with local training. A prevalent theme in feedback was high service pressures. The GMC found:

  • Workloads preventing some doctors attending learning opportunities or delivering education in formally allocated time.
  • Trusts designing rotas to ensure patient safety and continuity of care but not continuity of training.
  • Concern that doctors in non-training posts and physician assistants are overstretching educational capacity at some trusts.

Each of these concerns is addressed in the report by a requirement to improve and the GMC expects regular reports on progress.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said:

‘Our review confirms that, overall, medical students and doctors training in the south west of England are receiving good quality medical education and training. We’re pleased that the majority feel positive about their clinical and educational experiences and pastoral support.

‘We are concerned about feedback that suggests service pressures continue to challenge doctors in training, and those who provide training, to use their allocated educational time. Although this situation is not unique to the south west, we expect organisations to address the local issues we’ve highlighted so that safe patient care also supports good quality educational opportunities for doctors in training and medical students.’

A full copy of the GMC’s Regional review of medical education and training in the south west of England 2015-16 is available at https://www.gmc-uk.org/2016_South_West_regional_review_report.pdf_68503573.pdf

Ends

Notes to editors

The General Medical Council (GMC) is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK.

  • We decide which doctors are qualified to work here and we oversee UK medical education and training.
  •  We set the standards that doctors need to follow, and make sure that they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers.
  • We take action when we believe a doctor may be putting the safety of patients, or the public’s confidence in doctors, at risk.

We oversee UK medical education and training, and assess the quality of it, as set out in Promoting excellence: standards for medical education and training. This report refers to themes within those standards eg. supporting educators.

This review of medical education and training in the south west of England is part of a rolling programme of pre-planned visits across the UK.

Each one of the concerns in this press release are addressed in the report by a requirement to improve, linked to the standards above. The GMC expects regular reports on progress. Examples of good practice in this press release are shared with stakeholders, and further examples are available on our website.

GMC data suggests there were a total of 2,617 medical students in the 2015-16 academic year, and 3,581 doctors in training in 2016 across the south west of England.

The south west of England referred to in this report encompasses the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Bristol and Dorset.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is not here to protect doctors – their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect the public.

We are independent of government and the medical profession and accountable to Parliament. Our powers are given to us by Parliament through the Medical Act 1983.
We are a registered charity (number 1089278 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and number SC037750 with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), we have to show that our aims are for public benefit.

The GMC Media Relations Office can be contacted on 020 7189 5454, email press@gmc-uk.org. To find out more please visit our website www.gmc-uk.org.

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