GMC publishes Wessex region review
The General Medical Council (GMC) has published its review of medical education and training sites across Health Education England’s (HEE) Wessex region, including Dorset, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.
The regulator found serious concerns at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight and at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, but was impressed by the mental health training provided by sites in Southampton and Poole.
"We set high standards for medical education and make no excuses for doing so. Patients rightly expect and deserve good care from their doctors, and it is important doctors have access to the support they need to do the job well."
Professor Colin Melville
GMC Director of Education and Standards
Overall it found that education and training remained a ‘valued part of organisational culture’, even at trusts where understaffing was putting a strain on services, and that doctors in training reported a good educational experience.
A confidential support service provided across the region by HEE Wessex, where staff are trained in coaching and careers support, was particularly praised by the GMC.
Professor Colin Melville, Director of Education and Standards at the GMC, said:
‘We set high standards for medical education and make no excuses for doing so. Patients rightly expect and deserve good care from their doctors, and it is important doctors have access to the support they need to do the job well.
‘The issues at Isle of Wight Hospital and at Dorset County Hospital were a concern. We have been given assurances that the issues are being addressed, but we will check on progress to make sure that is the case.’
Concerns at the Isle of Wight included trainee doctors sometimes being asked to make decisions beyond their level of competence, and being left without adequate clinical supervision when working out of hours.
A lack of direct on-site supervision for doctors in training during night shifts was also an issue at Dorset County Hospital, although steps have been put in place there to address the problem.
The GMC visited mental health services run by Dorset Healthcare University NHS Trust, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Solent NHS Trust. It praised what it found as a ‘supportive learning environment and culture’ in psychiatry.
Prof Melville added:
‘The approach to psychiatry across the region is having a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of psychiatry trainees. There are areas of good practice in Wessex, particularly around learning environment and culture, which could be adopted in other areas of the country.’
The GMC visited sites across HEE’s Wessex region, setting out requirements and recommendations for each organisation it reviewed. Each education provider must update HEE Wessex on steps being taken to address any concerns, and then action plans will be published on the GMC’s website.
The GMC visited Wessex as part of its routine schedule of visits to organisations that commission, manage and deliver education and training for doctors. The reviews are intended to check standards are being met, to identify any challenges and to encourage the sharing of best practice.