Quality Panels: Questions and Answers

Please note that this page will be updated regularly but if you have any questions not answered here, please don't hesitate to contact the Quality Lead at jane.bunce@hee.nhs.uk


Q. When should Quality Panels take place?

A. Quality Panels can take place at any point in the year.


Q. Whose responsibility is it to arrange the trainee representatives?

A. TPDs need to ask for volunteers / nominate trainee representatives please.


Q. What are the trainee representative roles on the Quality Panel?

A. Trainee reps are to provide a balanced view of the placements they have experience of and be informed about other posts within the programme by canvassing colleagues who have experience of these placements. They should also be prepared to be the individual who records the outcome of the panel if the TPD requests this of them.


Q. How can we be sure trainees will feel comfortable enough to provide honest feedback?

A. By ensuring your panel has more trainees on it than other members.  By asking any trainers on the panel who may be closely linked to any of the trainee reps to leave the room at certain points. By ensuring that any issues regarding trainee performance are dealt with very separately.  In addition, some trainees may be feeding back on posts that they are not in. 


Q. Do trainee reps all sit on the panel at the same time, or are they interviewed separately?

A. Trainee reps are equal panel members and all sit on the panel together.


Q. What if it isn't possible for a programme to have more trainees than trainers in a Quality Panel e.g. for very small programmes?

A. We encourage compliance with having more trainees than trainers at Quality Panels to ensure the trainee voice. However, we appreciate that with one trainee in a small specialty this may not be practical.  We do encourage a conversation with that trainee though to ensure that their voice is heard.  Externality e.g. An Associate Dean would facilitate a more robust process.


Q. What about programmes with trainees who undertake multiple posts in a year?

A. Trainees should report on a particular post rather than a programme and each programme can decide which is the most appropriate census date to report on.  This will vary according to the programme rotation and start dates for trainees. 


Q. Should Heads of School run Quality Panels?

 A. No. The Training Programme Director is responsible for the quality panel with administrative support from Schools Managers or the Medical Education department in Trusts as appropriate.


Q. How is a post graded by a panel? What other evidence will the Quality Panel review?

A. Quality Panels will be provided with a 'lines of enquiry' document along with the most recent GMC NTS School Report which should be explored at the panel. Both documents should generate discussion of the requirements that form the standards contained within the GMC document Promoting Excellence.


Q. If posts come back from trainee representatives graded as 'good', do we have to hold a panel?

A. Yes please.  In these circumstances we would ask you to consider how 'Good' feedback could be increased to 'Excellent'.  In addition, we would encourage you to discuss and record Good Practice.  


Q. How is the trainers view considered in the process?

A. The trainers will have the opportunity to give feedback on the draft Quality Panel report.  


Q. What if the lines of enquiry don’t cover topics which are important for the programme?

A. The lines of enquiry are only one source of evidence at the quality panel. It is possible to review any source of relevant information.


Q. I have some suggestions on how to improve the Lines of Enquiry, can any changes be made?

A. The lines of enquiry will be used as they are for the current year however, we will ask for feedback and as a consequence of this, changes may be made for the following Quality Panel.  Schools can add to these to reflect any pertinent Line of Enquiry.


Q. I am currently looking at individual posts, rather than groups of posts and am concerned about trainees not being honest and getting a lot of ‘good’ results. How can I overcome this?

A. We suggest TPDs look at groups of posts by grade. It's the TPDs role to decide which posts to aggregate. It is also possible to look at quality data to cross reference information provided in order to decide a grade. 


Q. What if actions are required but we don't know timescales for improvement because the supervisors responsible for change are not at the panel?

 A. The draft Quality Panel report should be sent to relevant stakeholders for comment in order to capture actions. Supervisors can then have a chance to comment on the report, particularly with regard to an investigation and action planning.


Q. Can LEP visits still take place?

A. Yes.  If a School still wishes to undertake an LEP visit, please inform the Quality Team so that it can be supported.   


Q. What about Trust Executive Team input?

A. The Quality Team meets with each of the Trusts at least twice yearly.  Interim Contract Meetings are held during the Summer where we meet with the DME.  In Winter, we hold Annual Contract Meetings with each of the Trusts where a member of the Executive Team is present.  We use both these opportunities to discuss any issues held on our Quality Register, GMC NTS results and LEP visit/Quality Panel outcomes.


Q. What happens to the Quality Report?

A. The Quality Panel Reports will all be made available on the Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education website once finalised.


Q. How long do Quality Panels usually take?

A. An average Quality Panel, e.g. Anaesthetics covering 6 Trusts, is likely to take 2-3 hours.


Q.  Do I need to hold a Quality Panel for an empty post?

A. No.  Please do ensure that such posts remain approved with the GMC though.