The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (the Academy), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have today published A framework of operating principles for managing invited reviews within healthcare.
The purpose of the framework is to ensure that there are similar principles, standards and working practices across non-statutory external reviews of NHS clinical services carried out by Colleges, professional bodies or other organisations.

The framework was produced in response to a specific recommendation in Dr Bill Kirkup’s report into maternity services at Morecambe Bay Hospital which was published in March 2015. Recommendation 41 of Dr Kirkup’s report expressed concern at the ad hoc nature and variable quality of the numerous external reviews of services that were carried out at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and recommended that systematic guidance be drawn up; setting out an appropriate framework for external reviews and professional responsibilities in undertaking them. It was proposed that the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) should take forward this recommendation.

While noting that none of the many reviews of clinical practice at Morecambe Bay were in fact formal Royal College invited reviews, the Royal Colleges and professional bodies involved in providing invited reviews fully support the objective of having a clear framework of operating principles to underpin this activity.

The document has been produced for the Academy by Colleges involved in invited reviews and has been agreed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing.
The Care Quality Commission and the General Medical Council have supported the production of the framework and contributed to document.

Academy Chair Professor Dame Sue Bailey said:
“External reviews of NHS services by professional or other bodies can play a crucial role in identifying problems and recommending improvements. However it is very important that patients can expect consistent standards and quality when a professional or other body undertakes an external invited review of any NHS service.

The Academy believes that this framework provides the systematic guidance for external reviews that the Kirkup review was seeking and, as such, recommends it to all NHS organisations commissioning external reviews of their services and to all professional or other organisations conducting such reviews. Medical Royal Colleges, the RCN and RCM believe that if these operating principles are applied properly, patients will benefit from consistent, high quality external reviews of NHS service.”

A framework of operating principles for managing invited reviews within healthcare