2019 brought the quinquennial GDC inspection to Birmingham. This time the GDC undertook a risk-based approach, where they undertook between 0.5 up to 2-day inspections of UK Dental Schools and visited the final BDS examinations in only 6 of those schools for a further 2 days in June.
Birmingham received the maximum visit time, with 2 days on the 13th and 14th February 2019 and a further 2 days of observation of the final BDS examinations on 3rd and 4th June – the latter being a birthday present for me as head of school.
Why the full treatment for Birmingham? Many reasons – but most importantly, we had a brand new building, located for the first time in our history outside the city centre, with potential challenges to patient supply. We were also the first digital school with e-dental records, we had retained “minimum requirements” unlike most other schools, as we genuinely believed practical hands on experience was critical to student learning, confidence and competence. Finally, we had our flagship digital student assessment system “CAFS” developed by Giles Perryer and colleagues, which provided incredibly granular information on each and every student’s clinical care and performance across the programme.
The GDC team assessed us against their 2015 revised Standards for Education - a total of 21 requirements across 3 standards:
Standard 1: Protecting patients - 8 requirements
Standard 2: Quality Evaluation & Review of Programme - 4 requirements
Standard 3: Student assessment - 9 requirements
The visiting team were incredibly professional, put staff and student at ease, and went about their work quietly and efficiently; we hardly noticed they were there. In February’s visit we were hot by multiple fire alarms within an hour, requiring building evacuation. The GDC were impressed with how our students helped frail and dependent patients down the staircases, and in June, we pulled off a white glove year.
The outcome was that for the first time in my memory, we “fully met” all 21 domains, with a very complimentary report by the GDC. Quotes included “The inspection panel noted the significant and positive changes that have taken place since the previous inspection. It was evident to the panel that the Leadership team had been proactive and extremely dedicated in progressing the previous recommendations and staff have been working in a collaborative manner. The panel observed a cohesive and effective working relationship at senior and staff level, one which has ensured students have and are being supported throughout the programme”.
“The panel noted the excellent facilities & additional resources now available to students, such as the stress management & resilience programme and extension of programme timing, to ensure students gain as much practical experience as possible”.
“The panel recognised & were impressed by the support & training provided to staff & how the programme is working with the wider medical team & other faculties to support staff training & development.”
“The panel would like to commend the programme on the proactive manner in which patient feedback is now collected & utilised. Considerable progress has taken place in this area since the last GDC visitation in 2014.”
This is a huge credit to our staff both University and NHS full and part time, to our students themselves, and to our support teams in education, secretarial staff. Particular thanks to Dr Kirsty Hill, Prof Mike Milward, Mr Tom Addison, Dr Upen Patel, Dr John Morris and Dr Philip Tomson for leading the various domains. Also thanks to our fantastic Education team led by Clare Tolley and our tremendous College Quality team lead by Sarah Turner. A great team effort.