Clinical communication education – a brief history

EC4H 099 b1990’s

  • The Toronto Consensus and its successor the Kalamazoo Consensus describe core elements of the medical interview.
  • Tomorrow’s Doctors requires all medical undergraduates to receive formal training in clinical communication.
  • Multiple studies of communication teaching demonstrate that interactive small group teaching is the most effective.
  • Good Medical Practice (GMC) places more emphasis on the importance of communication
  • Royal College of Physicians report highlights the need for structured communication education.


  • Scottish Executive Health Department publishes “Talking Matters: developing the communication skills of doctors”.
  • EC4H runs its first series of workshops for consultants from a wide range of hospital specialties and primary care.


  • British Medical Association review “Communication Education for Doctors: an update”.
  • Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland includes formal evaluation of communication in GP appraisal.
  • National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance “Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer” recommends that all professionals caring for cancer patients are trained in communication.


  • Picker Institute highlights patient concerns about communication with health professionals.
  • UK Council of Undergraduate Medical Clinical Communication is established publishes a consensus statement on the core elements of effective clinical communication to underpin UK medical education.


  • EC4H runs its first international clinical communication tutors’ training programme in Singapore
  • Postgraduate Medical Education Training Board (PMETB) report “Future Doctors” highlights the importance of senior doctors acting as role models for trainees and other staff teaching good communication integrated with other aspects of clinical practice.


  • NHS ‘Connected for Health’ postgraduate communication training programme offers a wider range of programmes and deliver communication education to clinicians working in other areas than cancer


  • EC4H receives a grant from NHS Education Scotland to establish a national clinical communication tutors’ training programme for health professionals from across Scotland


  • EC4H launches a new online learning website and establishes a national clinical communication tutors’ network to support communication teaching & learning in Scotland


  • EC4H enters a formal partnership with NHS Lothian. Licences are offered to other Health Boards who wish to join the EC4H programme and offer EC4H accredited workshops. A designated website is available to partner Boards and tutors employed there to support locally delivered workshops.
  • Revalidation for all GMC registered doctors includes an evaluation of communication with patients and of working relationships with colleagues.


  • EC4H based in NHS Lothian is now supporting expanding programmes of training in NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lanarkshire, and is working in partnership with the Scottish National Organ Donation programme, the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank and the Icelandic Cancer Society.


  • EC4H wins a highly commended rosette at the NHS Scotland Education Conference
  • A new EC4H book Talking about deteriorating health, dying and ‘what matters is published for use in EC4H workshops alongside our standard EC4H workshop book


  • The updated EC4H website is launched
  • New NHS Boards become EC4H partners: NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Borders and NHS Dumfries & Galloway.
  • Marie Curie Scotland becomes an EC4H partner organisation
  • The Icelandic Cancer Society is the first EC4H International Licence holder