Coronavirus information

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We have been monitoring developments and advice from the UK Government and World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

We currently intend to proceed with all planned Prescribing Skills Assessment sittings, however we will continue to undertake risk assessments and will keep you updated if anything changes.
 
In the meantime, we ask that you take personal responsibility to keep up to date with and to follow  government advice and the policies of city officials in your location.

If we cancel or postpone a sitting, we will be in contact with your school, university or education institution to arrange next steps.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding our assessment and COVID-19, please contact your school in the first instance. If you need to, you can also contact us.

Independent Review of Prescribing Safety Assessment is published

An independent review of the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) has found that it increases the attention paid by students and faculty to accurate prescribing, and allows them to demonstrate competencies in the safe and effective use of medicines. According to the report’s author, the assessment will contribute to patient safety and reduce harm in the years to come. The Prescribing Safety Assessment inspired the international BPS Assessment platform.

The PSA is the online assessment of competency in the safe and effective prescribing of medicines, taken by final-year medical students and by overseas graduates coming to the UK to work as Foundation Year 1 doctors. It is led by the British Pharmacological Society and MSC Assessment and has received additional funding from Health Education England and NHS Education Scotland.

The assessment was created after a 2009 study from the General Medical Council found that 9% of hospital prescriptions contained errors. Subsequent research also showed that prescribing is the area of the Foundation Doctor role which graduates find the most challenging.  The PSA was developed to address this problem and has been compulsory for all new doctors since 2016.

The review was conducted by Professor John McLachlan, Professor of Medical Education in the School of Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire. He said:

“I’m pleased to be able to confirm that it is a high-quality process that will undoubtedly contribute to patient safety in the future.”

The independent review found that the processes underlying the assessment’s development, standard setting and delivery are of a high standard, and comparable with other national level tests.

Professor David Webb, Co-Chair of the Prescribing Safety Assessment Executive and past President of the British Pharmacological Society, said:

“This independent review of the Prescribing Safety Assessment confirms the benefits of creating a robust process for producing items and running assessments. Taking the report’s recommendations into account, and after years of investment, it is reassuring to know that the assessment is not only an excellent measure of competency in safe prescribing, but also that it will help ensure patient safety in the years to come.”

Professor Jenny Higham, Co-Chair of the PSA Executive, Chair of the Medical Schools Council and member of the MSC Assessment Board, said:

“The Prescribing Safety Assessment’s development shows the success of UK medical schools in pooling their expertise to a common goal. We are delighted that students have reported the positive educational impact the Prescribing Safety Assessment has had on their prescribing knowledge. This review confirms its strength as an assessment.”

Today the Lancet published a comment by Professor Simon Maxwell – Medical Director of the PSA – and Professor David Webb, highlighting the role of the PSA  in improving medication safety,

Read the independent review

New case study and testimonial: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

The background – meeting a need:

Dr. Susan Brien, Director Practice and Systems Innovation, at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, has spent ten years of her extensive career, working with innovative projects that can improve clinical practice, and the quality of patient care.

As a practising neurosurgeon herself, she is committed to identifying activities that bring value to the College and support practising physicians in their learning and development.

In 2018, when Dr. Brien was searching for a technology project to fit these criteria, she saw the BPS Assessment as a natural partner, and its prescribing competency online platform as a vital piece of the professional development jigsaw.

“The prescription of medicines is one of the most commons interventions we do as physicians,” says Dr. Brien. “We must have the knowledge in how to apply medicines, as we work with patients who have very complex medical profiles, and it’s necessary all clinicians have competencies in this area.  We wanted to rethink how we were helping our Fellows maintain and expand on their professional competence. It’s important for the Royal College to innovate.”

Meeting the challenge

Following an extensive pilot  period, the Royal College adopted the BPS Assessment platform, and now provides prescribing skills modules for Fellows, which they access through a cloud-based, content-rich online assessment environment, with real-time feedback.

Crucially for the College, the assessments are available in both English and French and reconciled to the Canadian context insuring they are relevant to the Canadian medical community.

Benefits for the medical community

The ability to customise the assessment is crucial for Dr. Brien and her colleagues. It means the modules offer timely, relevant and peer-reviewed content, so that Canadian physicians can be confident they are enhancing their lifelong learning.

Dr. Brien says, “The BPS Assessment platform is different and innovative; it’s due to the quality of the content, and our ability to combine it with a robust peer review process in Canada. We can ensure the content is appropriate for a practicing physician.”

Where does it lead?

It’s an issue that has attracted attention in recent times, in the light of the opioid crisis in the US, and the cost of medication errors being highlighted by the World Health Organisation.

Dr. Brien is optimistic that introducing this new set of assessment for doctors will play a part in addressing these issues, and will allow the Royal College to set the standards in this area on a global scale.

“Patient safety is a subject that resonates with physicians across all specialties and we’re pleased to provide this tool to help with their lifelong learning.”

For more information on adopting our innovative assessment tool, please contact Alex Fox: alex.fox@bps.ac.uk

 


Key statistics

Number of questions peer reviewed by College Fellows:

60 questions by Royal College fellows and 30 questions by College of Family Physicians of Canada fellows

 

Number of Fellows taking part in peer review:

6 Royal College fellows and 2 College of Family Physicians of Canada fellows

 

Number of physicians who have taken the assessment to date:

704 physicians