Skip to content

WPBA: Quality Improvement Project (QIP)

The GMC recommends that all doctors demonstrate an involvement in Quality Improvement at least once a year. During your GP training you are expected to complete a Quality Improvement Project (QIP) when you are in your primary care placement in either ST1 or ST2 and a Quality Improvement Activity (QIA) in the other two training years.

By the time you reach the end of training you need a minimum of 1 QIP and 2 QIAs.

As a trainee you are in good position to identify areas of practice that frustrate you and that possibly have an impact on patient safety. QIPs are about making small incremental changes and measurements, which allow you to evaluate the impact of your changes both quickly and successfully.  The QIP should be written up in your Portfolio (there is a separate section to write up your QIP, which is different from the QIA learning log) and your supervisor will both assess, grade, and discuss this with you.

How to undertake a QIP

There is a lot of information below with ideas for QIPs, if you are unsure what to do. Guidance on the tools used and completed templates which have been marked by supervisors are there to guide you. It is suggested you look at this section before starting your QIP.
The Model for Improvement is a recognised tool for undertaking a Quality Improvement Project in a health care setting and can be used as a framework to help you. It asks three questions:

  1. Aim – What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. Measure - How will we know if a change is an improvement?
  3. Change - What changes can we make that will result in improvement?

First of all, you need to decide what the aim of your project is going to be.
Projects can be chosen following a significant event, a patient complaint; or an area of care you feel passionate about.
Do not make your project too complicated; it needs to be completed within your primary care placement in ST1/2.
The project should aim to improve patient safety or care and be ‘SMART’.

  • Specific - do not make it too broad and chose something you are interested in. Words such as increase / reduce help to set a clear goal.
  • Measurable – ensure that there is something you can easily measure to demonstrate any change. It can be qualitative data (descriptive) as well as quantitative data (numerical data).
  • Achievable - ensure the data is easily collectable and keep the aims simple.
  • Relevant - project should be focused on patient safety.
  • Time defined – choose something that can be done in your time frame. You need to be able to complete your project in your primary care placement. 

For example, a ‘SMART’ aim looking at doing 6 week baby checks in a timely manner could be ‘To improve the percentage of 6 week baby checks performed between the start of week 6 and by end of week 8’.
The QIP template requires you to describe your QIP in logical steps. This is then reviewed and graded by your Educational Supervisor (ES). Word pictures to describe the grading for each section are below.

Introduction to QIPs

Quality Improvement Project (QIP) FAQs

Why do a QIP project?

The GMC is clear that all doctors in training will have to participate in Quality Improvement work throughout their training as it is a mandatory assessment. The RCGP has designed a tool and process, which enables participation early in training. The skills learnt during this project can be put into practice throughout training. 

When do I need to do the QIP?

The QIP project is a mandatory assessment which should be completed in either ST1 or ST2 when you are in a primary care placement. 

Can I do my QIP in a non-primary care setting?

The idea of the QIP is for you to demonstrate your understanding of quality improvement and how this is evaluated. As GP trainees we would recommend this is done in primary care and the subject of your QIP is relevant to primary care. If this is not possible for whatever reason, then the QIP can be done in a non-primary care setting, but we would recommend you discuss this with your GP supervisor first as it is them who will need to mark the QIP and give you feedback.

What do I have to do?

You are required to undertake a QIP, then complete the QIP template demonstrating learning and reflection. The project should be uploaded to provide proof of undertaking the activity in addition to completing the QIP template, which requires reflection on what has been learned as a result of reviewing the process of doing the project. Your GP supervisor then assesses the QIP project and Portfolio and feedback is given to you by them, which should encourage further discussion. Guidance should be given by the local GP education team and/or utilising wide range of resources available on the RCGP WPBA website.

Can I fail the assessment?

The assessment is not a pass/fail exercise, however if you are consistently below expectations when assessed by your supervisor, it might be recommended to repeat the exercise, or a component of it and write a follow-up learning log entry.
It is though mandatory to complete the assessment. 

What are the feedback levels?

You are given the following feedback levels: below expectation, meeting expectation or above expectation for each domain compared to the expected level of a GP trainee working in the clinical post. The supervisor also rates you on your overall competence. 

What would an unsatisfactory QIP look like?

Indicators of an unsatisfactory QIP would include:

  • No team engagement
  • No engagement of stakeholders (people affected by change including patients)
  • Minimal measurement
  • No real attempt at implementing change, just a discussion that change should happen

Please refer back to the RCGP WPBA QIP Word Descriptors to gain a further understanding of what is required within the project and write up.

Do I need to do any other QI activity during my training?

Yes, you have to demonstrate involvement in quality improvement annually. In the training years when you are not doing your QIP then you will need to do a quality improvement activity. Please see the QIA section for further information.

What is the difference between an audit and a QIP?

Both aim to improve patient care. Audits are more formal and tend to be done over longer time frame; an audit cycle includes setting a standard, collecting data, analysing the data, implementing change(s) and then repeating the cycle. Model for improvement is often used as framework to do QIPs. This has been shown to test changes successfully and quickly. The PDSA cycle is iterative (repetitive with the aim of approaching a desired goal and the results of each repetition used as starting point for next iteration). PDSA cycles can be done often e.g. weekly. They generally tend to generate enthusiasm and be less tiring.

Can I just do an audit?

No. The methodology is different (see above question). It is expected that specific quality improvement tools are used e.g. the model for improvement, Plan Do study Act (PDSA), process mapping, run carts, fishbone diagrams, driver diagrams and Gantt charts. See the RCGP website for further information on these tools. 

Can I submit a project that I have worked on with a colleague?

It may be appropriate to work with a colleague to complete a larger QIP/QIA in the practice, or across multiple sites. However, it should be clear what work the trainee completed. The reflection should describe the trainees personal involvement in the activity and their personal reflection. The trainee can compare their data or the practice/department as a whole depending on the project. It might be appropriate for a colleague to run a computer search to gather data, however it would be encouraged for the trainee to learn how to undertake an appropriate computer search. It would be encouraged for the trainee to lead the project to gain full experience of completing a QIP whilst being supported by their supervisor/colleagues.

I don't know what to do my QIP on?

Ideally the QIP needs to be an identified need in your training practice however there are lots of ideas on the RCGP WPBA website to help get trainees started.

What resources are available to help me?

There are a range of resources to help trainees and educators with marking and assessment of this project available on the RCGP WPBA website. These include training resources for individuals or schemes, mock examples and completed marking of these as well as a list of projects of this size which have already been completed at this stage in GP training. 

Which capabilities does the QIP map to?

The QIP contributes to evidence in the relevant capabilities: Fitness to practice; maintaining performance learning and teaching; data gathering and interpretation; working with colleagues and in teams; organisation management and leadership.

I have done a QIA, why is it not counted against my QIP?

The QIP is a new standalone template and is counted separately to QIAs. Please see the QIA section below.

Can the prescribing assessment count as the QIA?

No, the prescribing assessment is a separate activity reflecting on ways of improving prescribing. An additional activity is needed for the QIA for the ST3 year. In ST3 trainees are required to do the prescribing assessment, a QIA and a leadership project which should all be separate activities and an LEA/SEA. Even though these are all quality improving they must be separate activities.