North East hospitals praised in GMC report

Education and training for doctors in the North East has been praised by the General Medical Council (GMC) in its review of sites across the region published today (Thursday 16 May).

The regulator visited hospitals in Newcastle, Cramlington, Middlesbrough and Darlington, as well as Newcastle University’s Medical School, as it reviewed Health Education England’s (HEE) North East and North Cumbria region.

It found that education and training are a ‘valued part of organisational culture’ throughout the region and that strong relationships between hospitals and the university help to improve the experience of doctors in training.

Hospitals in the region were praised for protecting teaching time with clinical teaching fellows dedicating up to half of their time teaching medical students. This was well received by students who praised the support teaching fellows provide.

Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust was praised for its support of education and training as well seeking and acting on feedback from students at all levels via a junior doctors’ forum and representation on varying boards.

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Educations and Standards, said:

‘We set high standards for medical education and are pleased to see the importance that is placed on education throughout the region.

‘During their visits our team was impressed by the commitment from trusts to provide both educators and learners with a positive educational experience, and the support available to achieve this.

‘The report shows many examples of medical students and doctors in training being treated with respect and having excellent education opportunities. We’re pleased to see educators are valued and supported in their roles and provided with opportunities to complete formal qualifications to further their careers.’

"We set high standards for medical education and are pleased to see the importance that is placed on education throughout the region."

Professor Colin Melville

Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards

Hospitals in Newcastle were also praised for their work to support doctors not in full time training. Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital was singled out for praise due to the appointment of a guardian and consultant mentors for this group of trainee doctors. Elsewhere strong interdepartmental links were commended for their role in supporting less than full time trainee doctors.

The city’s Royal Victoria Infirmary was particularly recognised for its investment in providing good rest facilities for staff, including doctors in training, on its intensive care unit and promoting a culture where the use of these facilities is encouraged, helping to prevent burnout.

Elsewhere, Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital was singled out for involving medical students and trainee doctors in educational governance. Learners are represented on various boards throughout the trust with the opportunity to share their viewpoints and influence change.

Uniforms at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital were praised for their bright colours and the clear labelling of students’ roles. This was noted as a good example of identifying seniority in the hospital and preventing doctors in training being expected to work beyond their competence.

James Cook University Hospital was also commended for its ‘effective and robust’ induction processes for doctors in training and medical students.

Middlesbrough’s Roseberry Park was recognised for the support it gives to doctors who act as educators, by making sure they have adequate time in their rotas to carry out supervision and training as well as their day to day role.

Darlington Memorial Hospital was praised for its comprehensive inductions, in which students meet with the tutors responsible for them eight weeks before beginning a placement. Students found this beneficial for their induction.

However, despite examples of comprehensive induction practices in most hospitals, these were inconsistent across sites in Northumberland with some describing their induction as ‘chaotic’ leaving them feeling unprepared.

Professor Melville added:

‘We were pleased to see the support provided to doctors in less than full-time training at hospitals throughout the region. Significant investment in facilities to provide good standard rest facilities for doctors to prevent burn out was also well received.

‘However, inconsistencies with inductions needs to be addressed. That will protect patient safety by preventing trainee doctors being unprepared when staring a new placement.’

The GMC visited sites in HEE’s North East and North Cumbria region, setting out requirements and recommendations for each organisation it reviewed. Each education provider must update HEE on steps being taken to address any concerns, and then action plans will be published on the GMC’s website.

The GMC visited the North East 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.

Read the report here