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Professional Standards

Invited Reviews

Healthcare organisations recognise the importance of independent and fair expert professional review processes as they do not always have the expertise within their own organisation to review specialist mediacal and surgical practice.

One function of the Surgical Royal Colleges and the Professional Surgical Specialty Societies is to offer their Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) services to Trusts (England), Health Boards (Wales) and other UK and Irish healthcare organisations.

IRM - RCS England

IR - RCS Edinburgh

The Society is keen that concerns about practice are identified and resolved early, to prevent harm to patients and increase the opportunity for the individual to return to safe practice. Our advice is therefore to contact an IRM organisation as early as possible and to provide them with as much information as you can about the case.

The case can be discussed without the need for you to identify the individual practitioner in the first instance.

Types of review

The primary purpose of the review is to provide expert opinion and external assurance around quality of care that may lead to improvements to patient safety, patient experience and effective service provision.

All reviews follow the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC) publication ‘A framework of operating principles for managing invited reviews within healthcare’ published in January 2016.

  • Service reviews which relates to the way a surgical service is being delivered and how this might be improved.
  • Individual reviews review of individual practice.
  • Clinical record reviews which relates to whether the management of a specific case or series of cases has met the required RCS or specialty association standards.

Who can refer?

Requests will only be accepted from the Chief Executive, Medical or Nursing Director responsible for the healthcare organisation in which the review will take place.

Surgeons cannot self-refer for to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) but can ask their employing organisation if they will make a referral.

How does IRM work?

Invited reviews are designed to facilitate reflection and learning. Reviewers understand that the delivery of healthcare can be complex, and problems can occur for many reasons and in many ways. Sometimes problems relate to an individual’s practice and/or clinical skills, but most will require an understanding of both individuals and the organisational systems in which they work.

The review team will offer solutions that take account of healthcare systems and represent patient/public interest.

An invited professional review does not replace a healthcare organisation’s own procedure for managing performance or the processes of any formal regulatory body.

The VS will follow up actions taken with the healthcare organisation during the six months after the final report has been provided to them.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Framework

Learning from Invited Reviews

RCS England eLearning