In December 2012, the General Medical Council (GMC) launched a confidential helpline to allow doctors to raise any concerns regarding patient safety. Figures have now been released two months after the helpline’s launch which indicates that there have been 187 calls to the helpline including some from members of the public.
From those calls, it is reported that 12 have led to serious fitness to practise investigations and four less serious calls have made allegations which could justify action by the GMC against the doctors in question if they were part of a wider pattern of behaviour.
It is also reported that a high number of the calls were from the North West of England, West Midlands and London. Some of the calls have also been directed to other regulators such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Mr Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the GMC, has said; "We haven't engaged in a massive publicity campaign around this line, so the response shows there is a need for this service… Some of the doctors were phoning up with serious concerns, which have resulted in ongoing investigations. We're very pleased that concerns are reaching us - it's one way of pursuing areas where patients may be at risk.”
Since the Francis Report into the care provided by the Mid-Staffordshire Trust was released 2 weeks ago, the question of why concerns regarding patient safety and inadequate care are not raised or dealt with appropriately has become a serious concern. Whilst the GMC helpline has provided a new method for such concerns to be raised, it is reported to have had only 43 calls since the Report was published and so at present, it still remains to be seen whether the helpline will particularly assist much in this regard.
By Laura Hannah
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