Experience of six years of a regional peer review scheme in rheumatology.
Piper H., Hassell AB., Rowe IF., Delamere J., West Midlands Rheumatology Service and Training Committee None.
OBJECTIVE: Following discussions on peer review by the British Society for Rheumatology, the West Midlands Rheumatology Service and Training Committee established a peer review scheme for the West Midlands in 1998. We report our initial 6 yr of experience, during which all 14 units have been visited. METHODS: A rotating programme of visits was organized. Following this first cycle of peer review, questionnaires were sent to all consultants and senior allied health professionals in each visited unit and to all members of each visiting team to evaluate the process. RESULTS: There was clear consensus amongst staff from both visited units and visiting teams that a peer review visit is worthwhile and constructive. It is a good opportunity for education and exchange of ideas between staff and to promote the multidisciplinary team in rheumatology. Most recommendations from the reports were considered necessary. The most frequent recommendations were for an increase in consultants and therapy staff. Appointing further consultants has been successful. Opinion was only divided on whether the reports were viewed seriously by Trusts, whether peer review should be regional or national, and how to accurately assess the quality, as well as the quantity, of care provided. Staff would support further cycles of peer review visits. CONCLUSIONS: This has been a successful initiative and a positive learning experience for all staff involved. Specifically, it helped to obtain more staff and secure facilities. We recommend developing this scheme and promoting it to other regions.