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In 2016 London Medicine & Healthcare launched a flagship initiative: Vital Signs. Vital Signs addresses a range of challenges pertaining to both higher education and health policy which are likely to impact the provision of health education and training over the next five years.

The first theme of Vital Signs is Clinical Placements in Undergraduate Medicine, aiming to maximise the potential of clinical placements in London and gaining a better understanding of students’ perspectives of their clinical placement.

On 19 October 2016 London Medicine held the first formal meeting of Vital Signs: Theme 1.  At this roundtable discussion, attendees included the Heads of London Medical Schools, Wendy Reid (Director of Education and Quality, HEE), Martin Hart (Assistant Director – Education and Standards, GMC), Steven Hill (Head of Research Policy, HEFCE) plus colleagues from Health Education England London and the South East. The paper entitled ‘Undergraduate Medical Clinical Placements in London’ was also published and discussed. The meeting was extremely successful and since then a number of outcomes have been planned and agreed with the Vital Signs dedicated task group.

The second formal meeting of Vital Signs: Theme 1 took place on 16 February 2017. It was at this meeting that decisions were made regarding mapping the current undergraduate clinical placements in medicine in London. Work is underway and the mapping is expected to be published in autumn 2017.

Between December 2016 – May 2017 a series of student focused work was carried out including a student survey aimed at capturing students’ perceptions on the current placement system, and face-to-face student interviews exploring more detailed explorations of students’ perceptions on education in placements in London. Drawing on the findings from this work, London Medicine has produced a best practice document outlining 10 recommendations from the student perspective to provide effective undergraduate medical clinical placements in London.

On 29 June 2017 a symposium event took place with London Medicine members and stakeholders to report on all the of the work carried out on Vital Signs: Theme 1 over the year and to publish London Medicine’s reports on this theme.

Following the publication of London Medicine’s reports on clinical placements in June 2017, the Royal Free London have worked towards implementing many of the recommendations and guidelines contained in the reports. Below, Dr Joseph Newman,  Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Royal Free, introduces the work that is taking place, while full details of the Royal Free’s initiative on clinical placements can be found here.“In June 2017 London Medicine published a key set of medical education guidelines entitled Providing effective undergraduate medical clinical placements in London: Recommendations from the student perspective.

At UCL Medical School’s Royal Free London campus, we set out to evaluate how the modules we provide already meet these recommendations and where indicated, we have designed new projects to either fill the deficits or enhance the teaching already in place.

We are a diverse team of six Clinical Teaching Fellows from a range of clinical backgrounds under the leadership of Dr Paul Dilworth, UCL sub-dean, and liaison with Prof Deborah Gill, Director of UCL Medical School. We work closely with the administrative team and the wider medical school to design, deliver and evaluate a large number of medical education initiatives.

In this document we aim to outline the work that we have carried out over the past year as a case study of how the London Medicine recommendations could be implemented further afield. Whilst the projects are based on local curricula and infrastructure, we hope that the principles have a wider applicability.”