Opinions

Improving the General Medical Council’s complaints process

Written by: Victoria Carson, Head of Scottish Affairs, General Medical Council

Published: 21/04/2015

Introducing an opportunity for people who use support and services to meet those involved in GMC investigations.

The General Medical Council helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and doctors. We support them in achieving (and exceeding) those standards, and take action when they are not met.  Our complaints procedure investigates concerns raised about doctors to determine whether they are fit to practise so we can help to maintain your trust in the medical profession looking after you or your relative or friend.

We recognise that for patients or carers speaking up about poor medical care can be a difficult or traumatic experience and so here is how we are trying to improve your experience of the GMC complaints process.

In February 2015 we started to invite patients already at the start or the end of a GMC investigation to meet with a Patient Liaison Advisor in Scotland. This offers you the opportunity to ask questions about what will happen during our investigation of your complaint and how we decide the outcome. It also allows us to clarify if there is anything about your complaint that we don’t fully understand. An advisor will offer to meet with you again either at the end of an investigation or fitness to practise panel hearing, to explain the outcome and provide details of organisations that can offer further help.

It is important that complaints are resolved by the correct body, and it is more appropriate for many of the complaints raised with us to be resolved at a local level. Complaints that do not meet the threshold for taking the complaint further are not necessarily invalid, and where we can we will work to advise complainants of the most suitable place to go.

For the complaints that we do need to investigate, because the issues are so serious that a doctor’s fitness to practise might be called into question, we want to resolve them faster, provide more personalised support and help patients to understand the decisions we make.

We know there is more that we can do to improve our complaints procedure further and we are determined to make things quicker, simpler and more transparent for patients. We have published Patients’ Help, an interactive guide with information about the complaints process, case studies and contacts for support organisations across the UK. We have also launched a guide for patients with information about where to go for advice in Scotland, and an online complaints form for patients and the public to make raising concerns quicker and simpler.

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