Winner: Wessex Deanery for Postgraduate Medical Education

Project: Enhanced management of the education of hospital doctors

Contact: Dr Mark Rickenbach, tel: 023-8025 2915

The middle, senior house officer, grade of hospital doctor has been criticised because of its large service commitment and poor educational structure. In 1993, a programme organiser for hospital SHOs' training for general practice was appointed and a system of monitoring SHO education was implemented. This has led to more appraisal, teaching and contact with GP trainers. SHO programme organisers were subsequently appointed to each vocational training scheme in Wessex and the model has been applied to 15 new SHO posts.

Management: The project was overseen by Bournemouth University as a PhD research thesis, under the local management of the school of postgraduate medicine at Portsmouth University, which is part of the Wessex Deanery.

Innovations and successes: Previous studies have only taken a snapshot. This project monitored junior doctor training closely, using a designated programme organiser. It was the first to bring together a range of interventions in SHO education, their merits and their application in a cycle of 'plan-do-study and act'. Appraisal of junior doctors increased from 25 per cent in 1994, to 69 per cent in 1996. Contact between junior doctors and their GP trainers rose from 46 per cent having casual meetings in 1996, to 100 per cent having regular, structured meetings in 1998. Fixed educational sessions were introduced, there was an improvement in the quality of teaching and induction and attendance. The monitoring system applied in Portsmouth has since been taken up by South East region in Scotland, as well as across Wessex.

The judges said: This project is one in an area of considerable importance to the service. Dr Mark Rickenbach would want us to acknowledge the support and hard work of his many colleagues, but the judges were left in no doubt that the success of this impressive piece of work is built on his personal convictions.

Runner-up: Nottingham University division of general practice and the NHS Information Authority

Project: PRIMIS (Primary Care Information Services)

Contact: Sheila Teasdale, tel: 0115-846 6420 In 2000, electronic records were granted medico-legal status and practices could become paperless. However, there was a realisation that the reliability of primary care data was variable.

PRIMIS offers training to primary care organisations that want to improve the quality and use of their data and clinical computer systems.


The project is managed by the NHS Information Authority, according to PRINCE 2 methodology. A project board oversees the project, which is supervised by a project manager.

A PRIMIS user representative group also meets regularly.

Innovations and successes

PRIMIS encounters a wide range of attitudes among its potential service users - from GPs who refuse to switch on their computers to IT visionaries. In addition, it has to facilitate change across entire practice teams.

Change management and communication skills are therefore taught alongside topics such as clinical terms and data recording, using an 'adult learning approach' that builds on existing knowledge and skills.

Training will be delivered to 350 facilitators by March 2003, and they will work with primary care teams to improve information management skills.

Demonstrable improvements in the quality of data held on the computer systems of PRIMIS schemes have already been made.

A final report will be written up at the end of the three-year project period in March 2003.

The judges said: The topic is of the utmost importance and the team is making a significant difference. The judges were pleased to see the stress put on the importance of changing underlying attitudes and habits. Judging from the presentation, this is a group of people who get a great deal of enjoyment from their work.

Runner-up: Bedfordshire and Luton Community trust

Project: Hearts and Minds drama group

Contact: Martin Westwood, tel: 01582-708212

The drama group grew out of a partnership project between current and former mental health service users, Bedfordshire and Luton Community trust's Leagrave Lodge rehabilitation unit and the Friends of Leagrave Trust.

Its performances educate and inform select groups of the public about mental health and related issues, such as stigma and discrimination. It encourages individuals to find a 'voice', allowing them to take a more active role in the community and help develop life skills.

Management The project was developed over three years by health service staff and service users. It is managed by a steering committee. To continue expansion, the Hearts and Minds drama group has applied for funding for a project manager and administrative support.

Innovations and successes The project started with an exploration of users' experiences of mental illness and how this affected their lives. These were developed into an educational pack appropriate for schools and colleges. Drama and music were explored as ways of communicating the information.

The current play has been performed at the rehabilitation unit, at the Leagrave Lodge annual general meeting - attended by the local MP and community - conferences and drama festivals.

The judges said: This is without doubt a really special project and one that the judges feel should be cherished and nurtured. It demonstrates what courage, conviction, imagination and a real belief in the value of what each one of us can achieve - and it does so with a very challenging client group. We would encourage it to re-apply when it has matured.