GMC consult on new education and training standards designed to improve patient outcomes

5 February 2015

On 28 January 2015, the General Medical Council (GMC) launched a consultation which proposes the creation of a single set of standards for organisations delivering medical education and training across the UK.

The review, which began in 2013, had three main objectives:

  • making the standards more consistent and coherent across the continuum of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training and improving the quality of such training;
  • making sure the standards reflect the characteristics of a good learning environment and culture;
  • and supporting the regional reviews of medical schools, postgraduate deaneries and local education and training boards and local education providers.

The new standards will update the current GMC standards found in Tomorrows Doctors (2009) (for undergraduate medical education) and The Trainee Doctor (2011) (for postgraduate medical training).

Speaking about the new standards, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC commented that:

“The evidence we have is that the standard of medical education and training in the UK is high but we can all do more….We also want everyone in the profession from medical student to experienced consultant and GP, to feel supported and confident in the work they are doing…This is an opportunity to shape the future of medical education and training.”

The standards are structured around four themes:

  1. learning environment and culture;
  2. educational governance;
  3. supporting learners and trainers; and
  4. developing and delivering curricula and assessment.

The standards will bring together the medical education and training received by all doctors during the course of their undergraduate and postgraduate education and are intended to make the roles and responsibilities of organisations delivering and managing medical education clearer. They have been designed to make clear the standard of teaching, supervision and support medical students and doctors in training can expect to receive.

A number of the key recommendations arising out of the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry have been taken up and are woven through the standards, in particular, fairness and patient safety, experience and quality of care, are all now explicitly routed at the core of all teaching and training.

The standards will play an important role in ensuring that organisations learn from mistakes and effectively embed the new statutory duty of candour. Organisations must promote and encourage a learning environment and culture that allows doctors and trainers to raise concerns about patient safety as well as the standard of training itself, without fear of adverse consequences. It is hope that the standards will create an environment in which reflection is encouraged and where lessons are learnt from mistakes, adverse incidents and near misses.

The consultation closes on 24 March 2015, after which the GMC will analyse the responses and publish the final standards in mid-2015.

The consultation coincides with the publication of recommendations outlined following an independent review of postgraduate medical education chaired by Professor David Greenaway (Shape of Training review) which details changes to the postgraduate medical training, including shortening the training period. The government is currently considering these recommendations.

Any regime change designed to raise the standard of medical education and training across the piece should be welcomed by doctors, organisations and patients. Training is a valuable tool in empowering those involved in adverse incidents to be able to deal with them in a way that ensures that mistakes are learnt from and not repeated.

Kingsley Napley runs training programmes for doctors, helping them to better understand their regulatory and legal obligations, with a focus on improving standards and patient outcomes.

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