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RCS England statement on Panorama: Hospital Secrets Uncovered and our Invited Review Mechanism

19 May 2021

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Surgeons of England said:


“The Royal College of Surgeons of England’s mission is to enable surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care.


“Our Invited Review Mechanism (IRM) provides hospitals with an independent, external and professional review of an individual surgeon or surgical service and/or individual episodes of care. This typically involves two senior surgeons and one lay person being invited into a hospital to talk to staff on a confidential basis and examine relevant documents over the course of two to three days to determine whether there is a cause for concern and make recommendations for improvements.


“The IRM, as a form of peer review, is a highly valuable resource to help the NHS understand and address safety concerns quickly. Our reviews provide practical recommendations designed to improve the quality and safety of surgery. Surgical teams work in high-pressure and complex environments. Sending a team of experienced surgeons and lay people has proved to be the best way of quickly identifying what’s going wrong, and coming up with answers and solutions that will make services better.


“Once a review has been completed, the report becomes the property of the Trust or Health Board. We advise them to consider the information that they provide to patients and the public when managing their response to concerns about patient care, including meeting their legal duty of candour. We advise them to be open in the way they respond to our reviews, and we ask hospitals to put a summary of our review, its recommendations and the actions they are taking to address them, into the public domain.

“When our reviewers discover a serious safety issue, we advise the Trust/Health Board leadership  promptly, and advise them to involve regulators  as necessary.  We always check that they have done so, and if we are not satisfied that they have acted, we notify the regulator ourselves.” 



Notes to editors

For more background on invited reviews see:

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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