Recommendation 155

Routine visits to local education providers

The General Medical Council should set out a standard requirement for routine visits to each local education provider, and programme in accordance with the following principles:

  • The Postgraduate Dean should be responsible for managing the process at the level of the Local Educational Training Board, as part of overall deanery functions
  • The Royal Colleges should be enlisted to support such visits and to provide the relevant specialist expertise where required.
  • There should be lay or patient representation on visits to ensure that patient interests are maintained as the priority
  • Such visits should be informed by all other sources of information and, if relevant, coordinated with the work of Care Quality Commission and other forms of review

The Department of Health should provide appropriate resources to ensure that an effective programme of monitoring training by visits can be carried out. All healthcare organisations must be required to release healthcare professionals to support the visits programme. It should also be recognised that the benefits in professional development and dissemination of good practice are of significant value.

The General Medical Council has stated its commitment to a thorough and consistent inspection regime, and to building on its quality assurance arrangements to address the issues raised in this recommendation.

The General Medical Council is working with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and with postgraduate deans to develop a more explicit statement about how colleges should support visits to local providers. The General Medical Council’s Quality Improvement Framework is clear that deans must draw on a range of external advice to support their scrutiny of local providers, including from patients and the public, as well as from doctors.

The evidence pack supporting the General Medical Council inspection teams contain information from the Care Quality Commission and other external organisations. The outcomes of visits and information about serious concerns which the General Medical Council is monitoring are shared with the Care Quality Commission.

In February 2012, the General Medical Council Chair, Professor Sir Peter Rubin, and the four UK Chief Medical Officers wrote a joint letter to NHS organisations setting out the importance of releasing clinical staff to perform roles that improve the overall quality of patient care, medical education and the effective running of the health service.


The General Medical Council considered this recommendation as part of its Review of Quality Assurance of Medical Education and Training. The final report was published on its website in February 2014 and work has begun to develop an action plan to address this recommendation. The plan will include different phases to:

  • scope and understand the current appointment processes and training required by each part of the system
  • map the appointment processes and training undertaken and understand the similarities and differences.
  • agree a way forward with all concerned organisations designed to minimise the requirement to repeat generic training and develop a mechanism for co-badging visitors and inspectors for the future. The General Medical Council anticipate that this would help the move towards a more ‘collective’ assurance process for regulation in the future.

The General Medical Council are also considering how to enhance college support for visits to local providers and this will form part of the initial scoping to implement the recommendations from the final report.