GMC Review of Medical Education and Training in Northern Ireland 2016/2017

As part of their quality assurance work on medical education and training, the GMC visited all 5 HSC Trusts in NI, those responsible for and undertaking GP training as well as Queens University Medical School and NIMDTA between February and April 2017.

As a follow up to these visits, the GMC published their Review of Medical Education and Training in NI on 24 October 2017. You can read the full National Review report at:

What the GMC said about the National Review in their Press Release

Medical students and doctors in training in Northern Ireland have told the GMC that their learning environment is a supportive and positive one, with senior colleagues playing a vital role in shaping the next generation of doctors.

Overall, inspectors found the standard of training experienced by doctors in Northern Ireland to be a ‘positive one’ and most felt ‘well supervised, supported and enjoyed the experience they gained on clinical placements’.

You can read the GMC’s Press Release “Doctors’ training experience in Northern Ireland is positive” in full at

What the GMC said about their visit to NIMDTA

We felt that this was a positive visit. It was clear that NIMDTA is working well with implementing the Promoting Excellence standards. This was mapped into their guidance and documentation for education and training.

During their visit to NIMDTA, the GMC identified three areas of good practice, four areas that were working well and made two recommendations.

Areas of Good Practice:

  1. Patient safety reports are being used for educational intervention and are shared amongst all levels and specialties of doctors in training.
  2. The ADEPT programme is well organised, integrated into training and provides opportunity to gain good leadership skills. This was valued by doctors in training. The ADEPT fellows we met appreciated the Dean’s direct involvement and his accessibility
  3. The lay representatives working with NIMDTA have considerable expertise, bringing a positive degree of scrutiny and externality to proceedings. They felt a valued part of the team and their feedback influences change.

Areas that were working well:

  1. We recognised that NIMDTA has a culture of making people feel valued which ranged from doctors in training, future leaders (ADEPT fellows) and educators, particularly heads of schools.
  2. There is a strong collaboration between NIMDTA and Queen’s University Belfast School of Medicine which provides a linear continuum of medical education. This relationship also allows positive influences on training through transfer of information.
  3. There are areas where transitions between stages of training are being managed well. We heard of examples from undergraduate to foundation programme, ST2 to ST3 in obstetrics and gynaecology, and the ‘registrar ready’ programme in medicine.
  4. We heard good feedback that the ARCP process was working well from doctors in training, training programme directors and lay representatives.


  1. There is insufficient understanding and awareness of equality and diversity amongst the learners and educators we met at NIMDTA and LEPs. NIMDTA should maximise the use of data to inform their E&D work.
  2. NIMDTA should continue to work with LEPs to ensure that posts are aligned to the best training opportunities. This is to ensure service delivery is not prioritised over training, and doctors in training receive the experience and support they require, in posts they regard as attractive.

You can read the full report on the GMC’s visit to NIMDTA at

Response from Department of Health’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Richard Pengelly

As you may be aware, the General Medical Council (GMC) has published its Review of Medical Education and Training in Northern Ireland 2016-17.

I very much welcome the overall GMC conclusion that “Doctors training experiences in Northern Ireland is positive”. GMC has also produced separate and more detailed reports for each HSC Trust and other relevant organisations. The reports have identified many areas that are working well and a small number of areas where improvements are required.

I understand that the Trusts and NIMDTA have all engaged positively with the review process and have submitted action plans, where appropriate, to address recommendations and requirements set by GMC. Implementation of these action plans will be monitored and followed-up through NIMTDA, and progress will be reported to GMC in due course.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to colleagues for their work and dedication.

Comments in BMJ News Review

You can read the comments in the BMJ News Review “Northern Ireland trainees are well supported and supervised, GMC finds” at



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