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GMC welcomes the independent report on NHS complaints from Rt Hon Ann Clwyd MP and Professor Tricia Hart

GMC Statement

28 Oct 2013

The General Medical Council (GMC) has welcomed an independent report chaired by Rt Hon Ann Clwyd MP and Professor Tricia Hart looking at complaints in the NHS. The GMC was one of the ‘Key Partnership Group’ for this review and made four pledges which have been accepted and included in the report.

Commenting on the report Paul Philip, Acting Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said:

‘This report highlights the challenges that patients face in raising concerns about medical practice, an issue that we made clear in our recent State of medical education and practice report.

‘Complaints from members of the public give the health service the chance to reflect and improve the care and treatment that patients receive. That is why, in our four pledges to this review, we committed to do more to support people who raise concerns about their doctor, and to increase the role of patient feedback in revalidation - a new system of checks to ensure that all doctors are competent and fit to practise.’

Notes to editors

The GMC made four pledges to the Review of the NHS Hospitals Complaints System

  1. The GMC believes there will be increasing use of instant patient feedback and welcomes the greater transparency and patient involvement this brings. The GMC also believes patient feedback in general is vital for professional development and it has produced guidance for best practise for patient feedback as part of the revalidation process, which requires doctors to go through a series of annual checks. As part of the evaluation of revalidation, the GMC will look at the role of patient feedback and how it can be further developed. By September 2014, a research partner will have been commissioned to undertake this work
  2. The GMC will act to support patients through fitness to practice cases, undertaking to take tailored face to face opportunities to explain the process and outcomes. Interim findings from the pilot programme have been positive and the GMC will receive the final evaluation at the end of 2013. Subject to favourable findings and agreement of the Council, the GMC expect to have established the essentials of this programme in all four countries by mid-2015.
  3. The GMC will look at how well prepared medical graduates feel to deal with patient concerns and complaints in a positive way. They will do so as part of their review of the impact of Tomorrow’s Doctors 2009, which sets out the outcomes and standards for undergraduate medical education. This research will be received in the second half of 2014 and work will have begun to identify any changes that may need to be made.
  4. The GMC’s core guidance for all doctors, Good medical practice, sets out what is expected of doctors, including in communication and partnership working with patients. Its guidance emphasises the need to listen to patients, provide the information they need, be polite and considerate as well as treat patients fairly and with respect. The GMC is examining how these skills can be better reflected in postgraduate training and also promoted as part of continuing professional development for all doctors. The GMC plans to consult patients and others on this work early in 2014. Guided by the work of an independent review of post graduate medical education, jointly sponsored with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, by September 2014, the GMC will be working with the medical Royal Colleges and other key interest groups to embed the generic professional competences outlined in Good Medical Practise in postgraduate training.

The General Medical Council is the independent regulator of the UK's 260,000 doctors.

Our job is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine.

We do this by managing entry to the medical register and setting the educational standards for all UK doctors through medical schools and postgraduate education and training. We also determine the principles and values that underpin good medical practice and we take firm but fair action where those standards have not been met. This role and the powers to do it are given to us by Parliament through the 1983 Medical Act.

We are not here to protect the medical profession - their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect patients. We are independent of government and the profession and accountable to Parliament.

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