Medical watchdog to reform relationship with the public and professionals

Type: News Item Date Published: 6th June 2019

The General Medical Council (GMC) has accepted the hard hitting recommendations of an independent review group.

Chaired by Leslie Hamilton, a former children’s heart surgeon, the review was commissioned to consider the GMC’s role after the conviction of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba for gross negligence manslaughter and the subsequent proceedings that led to her return to practice from July 2019 (this link will take you away from our website).

The report outlined a series of recommendations (this link will take you away from our website) which include reference to working more closely with the public and organisations representing people who use support and services to encourage “better understanding of the GMC’s role in regulating the medical profession within a system under pressure. The GMC must demonstrate how that understanding has shaped, and continues to shape, its policies.”

Other recommendations include:

  • Greater involvement of, and support, for families and staff between an unexpected death and the start of a patient safety investigation.
  • Following an unexpected death, the family need to be told as fully as possible what has happened, why it happened and be assured that they will be kept involved and informed throughout the investigation.
  • The GMC should work to reduce the timescales for progressing fitness to practise cases to Medical Practitioner Tribunals (which adjudicate on complaints made against doctors).

Responding to the review’s recommendations, GMC Chief Executive Charlie Massey commented: “Regardless of any geographic and legal differences, there needs to be greater consistency in the response to an unexpected death. Support for, and involvement of, patients’ families must be a priority before, during and even after an investigation into an unexpected death. Doctors need to feel they are part of a just culture when things go wrong… The recommendations in this report will help us move towards the just culture that we all want and that will benefit healthcare.”

ALLIANCE Chief Executive, Professor Ian Welsh OBE said: “Leslie Hamilton and his working group have rightly recognised that the public do not well understand the role the GMC can play when things go wrong in the healthcare services they use. The ALLIANCE believes that regulation of the medical profession would benefit from a greater relationship with knowledgeable and informed insight drawn from the experiences of the people who use these services the most. The independent review makes welcome recommendations around the involvement of the public and we look forward to working closely with GMC Scotland over the coming years to ensure that people living with long term conditions, disabled people and unpaid carers are supported to engage, shape and inform GMC policy.”

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