About the RCPCH Invited Reviews Service

Invited reviews provide healthcare organisations with an opportunity to adopt a proactive approach in seeking assurances on care provided, address areas of concern and identify scope for quality improvement from a team of independent, expert peer reviewers.

They support, but do not replace the processes of the health and social care regulatory bodies or the healthcare organisation’s own procedures for addressing and managing patient safety, clinical performance, and service provision.


The RCPCH Invited Reviews Programme (IRP) was developed in 2012 as a valuable quality assurance and improvement tool, utilising expert independent peer review to help assure patient safety, address issues of concern at an early stage and improve the quality of care in children and young people’s health services.

Changes to the programme have been recently implemented to ensure it is delivered in line with the principles set out in the ‘framework of operating principles for managing invited reviews within healthcare’ published in March 2022 by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Changes have also been made in response to the recommendations made following an external review of the RCPCH Invited Reviews Programme. This was commissioned in recognition of the value for an established service to facilitate improvements to the service and to enable it to respond and adapt to the changing landscape of healthcare provision for children and young people.

The principles of an Invited Review

Invited Reviews aim to provide a safe space for active listening, and supports and encourages all staff who are invited, to participate as a way of providing the perspectives of those involved in delivering care in the service concerned.

They are commissioned by healthcare organisations to provide independent and objective expert advice on the clinical services they provide, through reliable, trustworthy peer review processes. The RCPCH Invited Reviews Service (IRS) undertakes the review as an independent organisation, commissioned by the healthcare organisation with both bodies sharing the same core purpose.

Information gathered as part of the invited review is from a number of different sources to facilitate triangulation in the forming of conclusions and recommendations. This includes relevant background documentation provided by the healthcare organisation, interviews with staff, stakeholders, and, where relevant and appropriate with service users (or representative groups). It may also be agreed that it would be helpful for the review team to visit the site(s) where the service(s) under review is provided.

Our clinical reviewers include a number of specialities, bringing experience and expertise in different areas of paediatric care, including community, acute, neonatal and specialist paediatric provision. Invited review teams are configured to meet the needs of the type of review and the service(s) involved.

To utilise expert clinician in-depth knowledge of standards, national guidelines and service models, and recognised best practice in reviewing services and to provide advice, recommendations and external assurance around quality improvement. This is designed to assist healthcare organisations to resolve concerns about child health service provision and work towards sustainable services with improved outcomes for children and young people and support compliant, effective working arrangements for professionals. Visit our clinical guidelines pages to read more about the College's work and involvement on paediatric guidelines and standards.   

The scope of the review is clearly defined by Terms of Reference agreed by the organisation commissioning the review, the RCPCH and the appointed invited review team.

The report issued to the healthcare organisation is collectively agreed by the review team, undergoes a quality assurance process and includes clear findings, conclusions and recommendations.

After the report is issued to the healthcare organisation who commissioned the review, a robust follow-up effectively seeks information on what actions it has taken to address the report’s recommendations. This promotes a culture of accountability and demonstrates the quality of the invited review service provided, which goes beyond the provision of a report.

The IRS actively seeks feedback on the service it provides from healthcare organisations, reviewers and those participating in a review. This is used to inform the development of the programme to be able to support healthcare organisations and practitioners who are involved in the provision of healthcare for children and young people.

Supporting improvements in the quality of healthcare services

More than 95 reviews have been completed since 2013. Over 80% of our clients gave positive feedback on the reviews process, and we continue to hear formally and informally about evidence of action planning and change associated with recommendations made in invited review reports.

In addition, the IRS collects information from the reviews undertaken and is committed to publishing this anonymously to inform and support assuring patient safety and improving the quality of the healthcare care provided to children and young people. In sharing major overarching themes, it provides opportunity to learn from each other and acts as a resource to support quality improvement and help inform policy and service standards in the future.

Further information

If you are considering requesting or commissioning RCPCH to undertake an invited review, you can download from the bottom of this page:

  • Handbook for healthcare organisations 
  • Booklet for participants and interviewees involved in an invited review - for those participating though interviews or discussion groups
  • Handbook for review coordinator - which you may find helpful prior to considering an invited review.

You can also read our web page with more detail about our processes, and how a review can help you and how to request an invited review

For any questions or to request an initial confidential discussion about the IRS, please contact the team at invited.reviews@rcpch.ac.uk.

Privacy notices

You can download our privacy notices below, which explains how we use data and information on our reviews and for those acting as peer reviewers.

Work with us

Are you interested in joining our pool of invited reviewers?

The quality and effectiveness of each invited review requires a team of clinical reviewers with the right skills, knowledge and experience.

Invited Reviewers receive training for the role and are supported in their responsibilities by the other members of their Review Team, the wider pool of reviewers, the Clinical Lead for Invited Reviews and the Invited reviews staff team.

The Invited Reviews Service is keen to expand the pool of reviewers to ensure an appropriate range of expertise is available when considering requests for received invited reviews.

Read more and apply here