Supporting you through the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic

Updated 14:00 24 March 2020

We know that the coronavirus epidemic is likely to result in disruption to training activities with doctors in training being directed to alternative tasks and locations to support the COVID-19 response. This means it may become increasingly difficult to fulfill all your training requirements by the current deadline.

Some royal colleges have already taken the decision to cancel or postpone their exams but the GMC and AoMRC have said they are determined to ensure the longer term needs of doctors in training are not compromised. Many interviews are continuing as planned or are moving to online video conferencing.

At Oxford Medical we remain committed to supporting your professional development while at the same time protecting the safety of our delegates, tutors and patients. All courses running between Wednesday 18th March and Friday 29th May 2020 have been cancelled. We continue to offer a full range of online courses and interview training by video conference.

What online courses do you run?

Almost all our in-person courses have an online alternative. For anyone with an imminent interview deadline or CCT requirement our comprehensive online courses represent the best currently-available option. Our Teach the Teacher Online course is a 3-hour course covering all the essential elements of our 2-day course. It can be completed as a stand-alone course with a certificate being issued at the end. Our Consultant Interview Online course is a comprehensive 3-hour course with examples of interviews to watch and critique. It can be used alone or in conjunction with our 1-to-1 Online Interview Coaching course our our Consultant Interview Guide book. You can see a full list of online courses here.

All online courses are available 24 hours a day. You get instant access when you order and you can spend as long as you want, revisiting the material as often as you wish during the subscription period. We have doubled the subscription period of most online courses from 60 to 120 days to give you plenty of time to complete them.

Can I still book a course?

We are currently offering instant access to our online courses and digital books. You can also book in-person courses running from 30th May 2020 onwards. Course availability is updated in real time on our website and bookings can be made (subject to availability) at any time, 24 hours a day. You can book future course dates with confidence, knowing that if you are unable to attend a course due to illness, or changing rotas, or if we have to cancel your course for any reason we will continue to offer a range of alternative options, including a free transfer or a full refund.

What if my course has been cancelled?

Currently all courses running between Wednesday 18th March and Friday 29th May 2020 have been cancelled. If you are booked to attend one of the affected courses you will have received an email outlining your options. These include access to the equivalent online course, an opportunity to transfer to a later date and a full or partial refund.

We will be contacting delegates in turn, prioritising the courses running closest to today first.

We are unable to offer refunds for travel, accommodation or other expenses and as always, we recommend that you book fully refundable travel & accommodation for your course. You can read more about our cancellation policy here.

When will you update your advice?

We will continue to update the information on this statement page as and when there is any change in the advice issued by Public Health England the Department of Health and Social Care.

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

In denial of wilful blindness?

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.” These words of wisdom still resonate today – some 500 years after they were written by John Heywood. And there’s plenty of evidence that “those who will not see and choose to ignore what they already know” exist within the medical profession.

Take, for example, the report from the independent inquiry into the case of Dr Ian Paterson. He’s the breast surgeon whose unnecessary, inappropriate and ineffective operations on hundreds of women led to a criminal conviction. His 20 year prison sentence makes clear that he holds the ultimate responsibility for his unacceptable actions.

What’s that got to do with anyone else?

Bishop Graham James, who chaired the inquiry, doesn’t hold back in his report. He makes it perfectly clear that the scandal was far more than the reckless actions of a rogue surgeon. “The suffering described; the callousness; the wickedness; the failures on the part of individuals and institutions as well as Paterson himself – these are vividly described in what patients told us.”

The normal reaction to a scandal is to look at the organisational and legislative steps which should be set in place to avoid repetition of similar events. That should sort it, shouldn’t it? After all, Paterson was suspended in 2011. Surely things have tightened up a good bit since then? Well, Bishop James also states, “It is wishful thinking that this could not happen again… Our healthcare system does not lack regulation or regulators. This report is primarily about poor behaviour and a culture of avoidance and denial.”

An “offloading of responsibility at every level” enabled his actions. “This capacity for wilful blindness is illustrated by the way in which Paterson’s behaviour and aberrant clinical practice was excused… Many simply avoided or worked round him. Some could have known, while others should have know, and a few must have known.”

What’s this got to do with “normal” practice?

Paterson is an extreme case. No amount of legislation or policing will ever eliminate the chances of the occasional maverick slipping through the net. But as suggested earlier, there are numerous examples of “those who will not see and choose to ignore what they already know” in everyday medical practice.

Our previous blog posts have referred to the common problematic sub-cultures which have been identified by the General Medical Council. There are sub-cultures centred around divas and factions. There are groups of people where deference to specific individuals creates sub-cultures with patronage at their heart. Groups of embattled doctors are not uncommon. And then there are others who have separated from the mainstream and become isolated.

Just like the doctors who were working with Paterson, who was “hiding in plain sight,” it’s all too easy to develop wilful blindness to the existence of these sub-cultures or to their consequences. Their presence is disruptive to patient care and detrimental to staff well-being alike. Let’s add bullying, rudeness and carelessness to the mix.

Someone else’s problem?

If problematic behaviours are being noticed, rather than denied, then surely someone should say something? Definitely. But who? Could there be an element of wilful blindness to the fact that no-one is taking any effective action? That such lack of action actually sends the message to the perpetrators that says, “It’s ok, carry on with what you are doing.“? To think anything else would, in itself, be an act of denial.

Speaking up and saying, “That’s unacceptable,” can be an uncomfortable experience. It’s bad enough when dealing with a more junior colleague. Maybe worse when it’s a peer. And what about if it is a more senior doctor who is behaving inappropriately? There’s no doubt that these are tough conversations. But change won’t happen without them.

Doctors already dedicate themselves to learning how to have tough conversations with patients. This includes dealing with sensitive subjects, breaking bad news and saying no. How much time is spent developing ability to have tough conversations with colleagues? If improvements to patient care and staff well-being are the obvious outcomes then there has to be a professional duty for this.

How ready are you to have the tough conversations that will make a difference?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

Like deja-vu all over again!

Punxsutawney Phil

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. Have you watched the classic comedy from 1993? If so, you’ll remember the cynical, sarcastic news reporter Phil Connors being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Once there, he scoffs at the pointlessness of the smalltown annual festival where the happy locals use a groundhog to predict the weather for the next six weeks. Phil hates everything about it. Unfortunately, his day gets worse when he is trapped in the town by an unexpected blizzard. He then wakes next morning to discover he is now (inexplicably) locked in a time loop. Every day, from this day forward, is exactly the same for Phil Connors.

Groundhog day in the NHS

The film was a big hit. So much so, that we now say, “It’s Groundhog Day again!” when the same situation repeats itself over and over again.

I regularly hear doctors on our courses using the phrase in relation to numerous aspects of their working life. Take your pick from the following: disorganisation; wasted resources; bad behaviour of colleagues; the struggle with difficult patient behaviour; the need to prepare for another appraisal. Or how about finding yourself teaching the same thing in the same way to another group of uninspired doctors for the countless time. You may well want to add your personal gripe to that list.

I remember being amused when one doctor introduced a bit of variation to the “Groundhog Day” phrase by saying, “It’s like deja-vu all over again.” (I’m not convinced that he said it as a joke!)

Sadly, many who find themselves trapped in the seemingly hopeless loop struggle to see any humour in their situation. When this is the case, they risk becoming cold, hard, cynical and/or sarcastic. Just like Phil Collins at the start of the movie.

Breaking the loop

However, the original Groundhog Day celebrations have absolutely nothing to do with hopeless repetition. It’s roots are in ancient European traditions which are celebrations of awakening. The appearance of the Punxsutawney Phil means the end of hibernation. It’s the earliest indication that spring is approaching. And spring is nature’s time for new beginnings and fresh starts.

In the movie, Phil Connors initially indulges in some of the very worst aspects of human behaviour. If anything, he becomes even more bitter than before. Then he slowly begins to do some little things that make a difference. As he starts to look at his world differently he dedicates time and effort to improving his abilities. His new skills enable him to bring about some dramatic changes to the world around him. He finds himself contributing more than he ever thought possible – and he’s much happier for it. So are those who are around him.

What efforts are you making to develop the skills that will enable you to break out of your own version of Groundhog Day?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

Rumination, automation or facilitation?

How do you really feel about reflective writing? It’s frequently demanded and is an expectation of being a good doctor. You know: “You have now completed this course. Please complete your Reflective Learning Statement.” And you have to keep your e-portfolio up to date for your appraisal or ARCP meeting. Many doctors report feelings of irritation. “Here we go again.” “What’s the point?” “I could be doing something useful instead.” Such thoughts often lead to procrastination. But you know that you still have to do it eventually.

Automation

There are a lot of things in life that we do on auto-pilot. It happens when we’ve completed a task over and over again without negative consequence. So, we default to ingrained, habitual behaviour. We do it quickly and efficiently without really thinking about it.

This is a common approach to reflective writing. It’s the chore that has to be done. Going through the motions. Ticking the box. If this is the case, then it genuinely has become a time-wasting activity. If there’s no benefit then what really is the point? You would definitely be better off doing something else. But what’s the alternative?

Rumination

Things can and do go wrong. Sometimes we say the wrong thing in the wrong way at the wrong time. Sometimes, no-one has done anything wrong – yet we are still exposed to events and circumstances which are upsetting or confusing.

It’s easy to fall into rumination, where repetitive thoughts go round and round in circles. We can become victims of our own thinking. Problematic ideas undergo fermentation. This can lead to pre-occupation and to poisonous fixation. Anxiety, depression and burnout are all-too-familiar results of un-managed rumination. So, we need an alternative to that too.

Dislocation

“Keep a lid on it.” “Dissociate yourself from the situation. Concentrate on the task.” “Move on, there’s another patient here to be cared for.” “Keep your work at work and your private life private.”

On a personal level, tucking our toughest experiences away in our darkest corners can seem like a logical, attractive solution. But what to do when thoughts start to resurface? Drown them out with some form of distraction? This can lead to problematic ‘coping’ mechanisms and even fragmentation of character.

And what about the impact on others? Does ablation of our memories and experiences go hand in hand with abdication of responsibility over our behaviour and actions? If so, then does this lead to constriction of self-awareness? Does it close the door on learning, meaning there is stagnation rather than progress? This is one clear reason for empathy to measurably decrease over the course of a doctor’s training. So this doesn’t seem like the right way forward either.

Facilitation

What’s really required is a method which enables facilitation of strong foundations for stability and growth. Different people prefer to do this in different ways. Silent introspection, discussion with a mentor or reflective writing are good examples of this. When done well, they utilise awareness of the past to inform a better future. But none of these methods should be taken for granted.

Silent introspection can work well for those who have learned and practised a disciplined approach. Otherwise rumination and lack of conclusion may be just a small step away.

Discussions with an experienced coach, mentor or colleagues offer the benefits of externalising thoughts. When we do this, we are more likely to channel our mental processes into something constructive.

The same can be said of reflective writing when it is conducted for the right reasons and using effective methods.

Unfortunately, many doctors have never been taught how to do this well. The ability has been taken for granted. Or if they have learned in the past, they have fallen out of love with the practice through over-familiarity. That’s why we’ve now launched our new course Reflective Writing Skills for Appraisal & CPD.

So, rumination, automation, dislocation or facilitation. What’s your current approach to reflective practice?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

Civility matters – all year round

Bad behaviour

“Well that’s just brilliant, isn’t it!” “Here we go again!” “How rude!” “How offensive!” “Look what you made me do!” “Who do you think you are?!?” “Are you trying to make it impossible for us?!?” “It’s not me, it’s you!” “What the #@$%!!!” CRASH! BANG! Thump! “………………….. (silence without eye contact).”

The stakes are high in healthcare. High demands equate to high pressure. Things can and do go wrong. Stress is rife. So, it seems inevitable that tempers get frayed and cross words exchanged. But at what cost?

Our festive season is traditionally a time for reflection, peace and making commitments to move on from the past. But civility matters all year round. Rudeness can have serious consequences. Watch Chris Turner’s powerful 15 minute presentation on the matter. It should make us all stop and think.

To say we must all take responsibility for our own behaviour is an obvious point. At the same time, it’s essential to call out bad behaviour of others when we see it or experience it for ourselves. This latter point is often the most difficult part. Every doctor must ensure they have the ability to have tough discussions with colleagues in an appropriate and constructive manner.

We wish you a happy, peaceful time over the festive season and the strength to spread civility all year round.

Stephen McGuire and all the team from Oxford Medical Training

What’s the opposite of giving feedback?

I’m regularly both surprised and delighted by delegates on our courses. Occasionally, someone says or does something which stops me in my tracks – in a good way. An excellent example of this happened to me just recently.

Dr K was one of 16 delegates on a 2-day Teach the Teacher Course that I was leading. Around half-way through the second day, my impression was that he was quietly paying attention. However, it wasn’t easy to gauge what he was learning at this stage. He was happily participating in small group activities. But he preferred doing this with doctors that he knew well and he rarely contributed to discussions in the larger group. That’s ok. After all, we all have our preferences when it comes to learning. As a tutor, though, you always like evidence that your event is having a positive impact.

An important feature of our course structure is that each doctor has the opportunity to design and deliver a teaching session to their fellow delegates. Taking the role of teacher allows them to experiment, put teaching theory into practice and test out new ideas. The other delegates take on the role of learners for these sessions. This gives them the opportunity to experience different teaching styles and then practice giving feedback. Such sessions are always most effective when the doctors combine their personal ideas and creativity with the concepts explored during the course.

A killer question

When it came to Dr K’s turn, his subject was, “The role of feedback in learning.” We always emphasise that giving feedback is an essential skill for teachers to possess. It’s also vital for strong leadership, management and team communication. (For clarity, we are talking about face-to-face verbal feedback, rather than annual, anonymous digital messages). It’s easy to state the obvious with many topics. The real challenge is often bringing this idea to life. How do you take a well worn message, make people really think and make it hit home with relevance?

So, Dr K began with a simple question. “What is feedback? Can you give me a definition?” Delegates thought for a moment and offered their ideas. “Constructive criticism.” “Pointing out errors.” “Recognising what’s gone well.” “Raising awareness.” “Sharing your observations.” He then offered a dictionary definition. It was a reasonable, but unremarkable start. It was the follow up question that stopped everyone in their tracks.

“What’s the opposite of giving feedback?”

Reverse provocation

This curious question is an excellent example of “reverse provocation”. That’s where you approach something from a diametrically opposite stance from the norm. We often visit this idea during our Essentials of Medical Leadership and Management Course as a method to stimulate creative thinking. Consider the question “How can we get more of our patients to turn up on time for their appointments?” It’s probably been discussed so often that any improvement can seem hopeless. We’ve run dry when it comes to new ideas. So, what about reversing it? “How could we ensure that patients always turn up late for their appointments?” This pushes us to think from a fresh perspective. Creating a list of answers starts to generate the solutions. At the same time, it also helps to reinforce the importance of some points.

So, what is the opposite of giving feedback?

Well, I’m not sure I have one clear, simple answer to this question. Delegates on the course thought long and hard, then offered a few suggestions: “Silence.” “Holding back.” “Acceptance.” “Avoidance.” “Apathy.” “Reinforcement of unconscious incompetence.” Maybe the most insightful response was,”What I usually do!”

In many ways, the answer is less important than the thinking which the question generates. Ultimately, it leads us to think about why giving feedback is so important and why it’s essential that a great teacher can do it well.

So how would you describe the opposite of giving feedback? What are you doing to improve your skills?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

Want to start an epidemic?

It would seem reasonable to think that being responsible for starting an epidemic would be the last thing any doctor would want. We usually consider epidemics in the physical sense. But we also see behavioural epidemics infecting a population. The recent escalation of parents not ensuring their kids are vaccinated is a good example. And we typically think of epidemics in the negative sense. We flip this idea round during our Essentials of Medical Leadership and Management Courses. Being responsible for spreading positive behaviour, ensuring improved working practices take a grip across your team and then beyond is a wonderful thing.

We often know what we want to achieve when it comes to leading quality improvement, championing new techniques or transforming attitudes. But how often do initial changes in team behaviour really stick. How often do initially well received ideas slowly evaporate and fail to take a grip? This happens for a broad range of reasons.

The tipping point

Malcolm Gladwell came to prominence through his book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  He begins by exploring the factors which contribute to a major outbreak of infectious disease.  He then goes on to look at historical events, cultural phenomena and human behavioural trends. His focus is on how things spread through human populations. Along the way, he aims to identify the key factors which contribute towards the reaching a ‘tipping point’. That’s the point when something moves from being small and contained to a few, to become an outbreak which impacts on the many.  These key forces can be applied to the deliberate spread of ideas and behaviours. They can be utilised to start a positive epidemic.

Gladwell proposed that reaching a tipping point requires three active agents:

  • The right people
  • A fertile context and
  • ‘Stickiness’

The right people

Leadership is often a ‘team sport’. We rarely achieve sustained behavioural change with a group of people on our own via one single act of influence. Change requires maintaining contact with our team members. Shift patterns, busy workloads and people working in different locations are just a few factors which make this challenging. So it helps to involve colleagues who are natural connectors, who are good at networking with people. It’s also useful to involve people with credible expertise who have the ability to distill any complexity or confusion into simple concepts. And support from people who can ‘sell’ an idea, who make it directly relevant to individuals will help ensure that everyone is onboard.

Fertile context

Epidemics require the correct ‘breeding ground’.  An infective agent may have a major impact in one situation.  Yet transferring the same agent to a different time, place or culture may mean that it has no impact at all. Timing is essential. People need to be ready for change. This might mean taking an opportunity as it arises, waiting for the right time or taking steps to ensure your team are going to be receptive to your initiative. As well as there being a ‘right time’ there’s also usually a ‘right place’. These two elements can be guided by understanding the prevailing culture which also informs what is expected, respected and accepted.

Stickiness

You have to genuinely engage people if you want them to follow your ideas. You need them to pay attention to receive your message clearly and unambiguously. So the way that you communicate is important. It needs to be personally relevant to people for them to commit. This works best when they understand ‘why’ and “what’s in it for me or the things I care about” is apparent. But one single instance of relevant engagement rarely has a lasting impact. So follow-up is an essential element of making your message or need for change sticky.

What do you want to change and how will you start your epidemic to make sure your ideas spread?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

A perfect recipe for breaking bad news

Healthcare often involves having life-changing discussions. You may need to recommend an unwanted procedure. It could be advising there’s been permanent loss of function. Sometimes you may need to inform that an error has occurred. And, potentially the most challenging, there are conversations about death and dying.

These can be traumatic experiences for all concerned. Traumatic for the patient. Traumatic for the family members or carers . And, of course, traumatic for the doctors themselves. So, it’s little surprise that delegates on our Advanced Patient Communication Skills Courses want to improve their ability to manage these situations and to manage them well. A significant percentage of them are looking for an effective process that they can use. And we do conclude our course by exploring a structured framework which has been proven to help. However, before we think about how to do this, there is a fundamental question to consider.

What do we mean by “breaking bad news well?”

When we delve into this question, there are always a number of doctors with a clear aim. Deep down, what they really want, is to communicate their message in a way that avoids any uncomfortable openly-emotional upset. Desire to prevent unnecessary distress is admirable. But can a lack of emotional disturbance really be considered as a useful indicator of success here?

At Oxford Medical, our definition of good communication is: To ensure that all concerned hear what needs to be heard.

So, an essential element of communicating any type of news is that your message is received and understood. If that message is truly life changing then an emotional reaction should not be surprising. But neither should it be considered inevitable. The initial reaction may well be one of silent shock or questioning denial. Alternatively, it may be calm factual discussion when the message has been heard but the unimaginable full consequences have not yet registered.

And good communication cannot purely be about transmission of a message. You need to be sure that the message has been received and understood. “Hearing what needs to be heard” goes well beyond simple sharing of words. Expressions of emotion are a very powerful form of human communication. They can help you know what message has been heard and understood, what the impact may be and how you should adapt.

It’s likely that you have experienced numerous instances of hearing bad news yourself at various points in your personal life. You may have experienced health issues of your own. You may have lost colleagues, friends and/or family members. Take a moment to think about the reactions you felt in some of these instances.

Process versus comprehension

Chances are, as each set of circumstances was in some way unique, that you experienced a unique range of feelings in response to each event. Patients and their families are no different. They all have unique personalities, unique circumstances and unique relationships with the people around them. So, their reactions are often difficult to predict, sometimes surprising. In fact, approaching the task of breaking bad news with fixed expectations will limit your ability to react to the events as they unfold. The problem with frameworks and processes is that, on their own, they lead to cold, unresponsive communication.

If your role includes regularly delivering life-changing messages then it is likely that these acts of communication will typically be remembered in far greater detail and for much longer by the receiver than by yourself. And they will remember you as a person every bit as much as the message itself. Their memories and emotions are forever interconnected with the way the message was delivered and your reactions to their situation.

Our approach on our courses is to begin by thoroughly exploring the human condition and principles of good communication. What drives our feelings, thoughts and actions. What we need and want. The nuts and bolts of communication. How we react to different circumstances. And we consider this from the aspect of patients, family members and doctors. We then take this deeper understanding and relate it to the various communication models that can be helpful in healthcare.

Comprehension enables intelligent application of frame works or processes. This in turn leads to caring, effective communication with benefits of all concerned.

What steps are you taking to improve you abilities with break bad news?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

Sustain the fire, prevent burnout

Hands holding fire

It’s almost two months since the latest wave of medical school graduates joined the NHS. The vast majority are brim full with altruism, idealism and enthusiasm. It’s also highly likely they are feeling significant levels of trepidation. Uncertainty, conscious-incompetence and unfamiliarity can lead to real pressures. And that’s normal for anyone taking up a new role. But there’s an additional problem which is being discussed a lot. The prospect of burnout.

A self-fulfilling prophecy?

If you start to type ‘burnout‘ into your online search-engine and it’s likely to give you ‘burnout nhs‘ as the lead prompt. Medical press, conferences and NHS communications regularly dedicate space and time to the problem. Recently, I had a conversation with a senior doctor who was despairing that the issue seemed to be getting worse. “We’re in a spiral. It must be something we’re doing. It’s becoming almost inevitable.”

Can that be true? Should bright young doctors actually expect to gradually be beaten by constant chronic stress to the point that they become hollowed out, emotionally-blunted, empty shells? Burnout feeds on feelings of self-doubt, inevitable failure and hopelessness. So, is there a risk that both leaders and these junior doctors can be reinforcing a self-fulfilling prophecy which will spread and accelerate the problem?

It’s not just the NHS

We cannot and must not ignore the high prevalence of burnout in young doctors. At the same time, it’s important to recognise that the problem isn’t confined to the NHS. Look out from the UK and we see the issue being discussed by doctors all the way from America to New Zealand and around the globe. Nor is it limited to doctors or even healthcare. Some commentators are, rightly or wrongly, labeling millenials as being the ‘burnout generation‘.

Feelings of isolation are further drivers/symptoms of the burnout spiral. It therefore makes sense that, at the same time as looking at the specific experience of being a doctor,we pay attention to discussions away from the medical arena. So what’s the way forward?

Prevention is better than cure

Burnout is the reaction to chronic stress. But what causes stress to one person can be somethings that others have learned to take in their stride. The requirements for junior doctors to learn cause, diagnosis and treatment of disease and how to interact with patients are obvious. But we must also remember that the earlier that they learn good coping mechanisms, the more likely we are to retain beliefs, energy and enthusiasm. So dedicated efforts to gain planning/organisation skills, the ability to have difficult conversations with colleagues and understand the UK healthcare system are also essential.

Leaders have a responsibility to encourage and facilitate such development. In addition, this quote should provide some nourishing food for thought:

What we call burnout, that sense of despair, hopelessness and loss of joy is not due to a failure of the individual. It is a failure of the environment they work in, the culture of the workplace, the workload imposed on this.

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president

Leaders have a duty of care for those who work for them. So, it follows that leaders also have a duty to develop their own abilities in creating real teams, becoming more organised, addressing bullying and the problematic subcultures and delivering change via positive behaviours.

What steps are you taking to sustain the fire and prevent burnout?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director

It’s official. We’re Excellent!

Excellent rating from TrustPilot

We’re delighted to see that TrustPilot now rate us as Excellent. That’s based on a total of 849 reviews from doctors who have used our CPD accredited courses over the past few years.

We invite every single doctor who attends one of our courses to post a review if they wish. They don’t have to. So we’d like to thank each and every doctor who chose to take the time to write a review and make your thoughts public.

All of these comments are available unedited and publicly visible and we respond to each and every one. So you won’t just see the numerous excellent five-star ratings that make us so proud. No-one is perfect. The good, the occasionally bad and the rare ugly comments are out there in the open for all to see.

The value of feedback

We build the topic of feedback into many of our courses. It’s a fundamental element of good team-communication. It’s essential for teaching, leadership and management alike. So we regularly explore the need for doctors to talk to each other about their concerns, the impact that actions have had on them or others and what needs to change. They also need to reinforce what is going well. And this cannot simply be limited to annual, anonymous, digital form filling. There needs to be conversation. Unfortunately, there is plenty evidence that there are major shortfalls across the medical profession in this respect, which is why feedback is a regular topic for my blog posts.

We don’t just rely on our TrustPilot reviews. We also ask every delegate to provide us with written feedback at the end of each course. This let’s us identify what we’re doing well. That let’s us spread best practice across our Faculty of Tutors. It also let’s us know where we’ve fallen short, what’s got in the way of our learner’s progress and what else our doctors would like. That means we can continually address issues and build on our strengths.

Openness

The importance of privacy and confidentiality is regularly discussed in relation to feedback. However, the TrustPilot website reviews go beyond regular feedback as the comments are out in public. That’s our choice. Such openness provides added incentive for us to tackle issues as and when they arise. The reviews also help us to celebrate our successes. The desire for improving our trends and our overall rating gives us motivational targets to aim for.

There are some similarities here to the public ratings which providers receive from healthcare regulators, such as CQC. It’s all too easy to feel under attack and disagree with some reviewers opinions when a poor rating is received.

How effectively are you channeling feedback, reviews and ratings into performance improvement?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director