Governance: North Western deanery

Postgraduate deaneries commission, plan, maintain and develop education for doctors and dentists in training. In March 2006, the newly formed Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) undertook its first quality assurance visit - to the North Western deanery.

The deanery had just four weeks from the receipt of a request for pre-visit information to the submission deadline. It had six weeks to arrange meetings in the trusts where medical education is delivered.

Two senior staff members and two education administrators were assigned to work full-time on the visit.

The dean provided an overview to outline positive elements and development points for the specialties being visited and their training sites. This gave an insight into the management perspective of the deanery.

During the three-day visit, a panel of 10 went to selected trusts where they attended presentations by senior deanery and trust staff before conducting interviews with trainees, trainers, educationalists and managers. The deanery made considerable effort to change people's expectations of the visits, emphasising that this was different to previous forms of monitoring visit.

The deanery benefited from the pressure to review its own processes, and the overall consensus was that the visit was a positive experience. As the first visit, it was also an important learning opportunity for the PMETB, which has continued to develop the process of inspection visiting.

The PMETB will be running a workshop in the summer involving representatives of the North Western deanery and others who have been visited to discuss the process and the concept of the deanery-wide visit.