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New whistleblowing guidance for medical professionals

View profile for Carla Duprey
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Concern for the future of GP care provision

Carl Johnson, from our regulatory team, has recently written some comments about the new General Medical Council (GMC) guidance that has been issued for doctors. Included within this guidance are updated standards regarding whistleblowing systems.

From the gov.uk’s website you are a whistleblower ‘if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing. This will usually be something you’ve seen at work - though not always. The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest’.

Clearly concerns about doctors’ practices or treatments are within the public interest, but historically concerns raised by whistleblowers in the NHS have often been ignored or, even worse, suppressed. Organisations (including AVMA) have been trying for years to improve the systems for reporting concerns within the NHS and to improve patient safety. The GMC issued guidance in 2013, which placed a duty on all doctors to raise concerns about patient safety, but sadly it remained the fact that, despite doctors raising concerns, they were ignored or appropriate action was not taken.

Sir Robert Francis carried out the freedom to speak up review in 2015, with the aim of fostering an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS. This review highlighted the need to ensure that support is in place for individuals to speak up safely and raise concerns, without fear of reprisals. The review also recognised that a number of workers felt the need to leave their employment after raising a concern, which ultimately led to a loss of expertise and resources for the NHS. This is even more of an issue today when the NHS are struggling with staffing levels and backlogs of patients waiting to be treated.

The new guidance, which will come into force in 2024, now places emphasis on doctors in leadership and management conditions to create a culture in which staff feel safe to speak out about concerns. Hopefully this will ensure that appropriate action is taken to investigate and address any concerns staff raise.

Thankfully, cases of medical staff causing intentional harm are very rare, but all sorts of issues can affect a person’s ability to do their job. It could be the case that the person simply needs some additional support or training and that this would then prevent any impact upon a patient’s safety.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical or health professional, then we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our leading team of experts are on hand to offer advice, so please get in touch with us on 0161 696 6165 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.