Annual report 2020

Investing in our people

A woman talking on a video conference call

With more than 1,300 colleagues across the UK, our people are every bit as important as our performance and our progress. And in a year of challenging circumstances, they committed to going the extra mile to continue supporting doctors and keeping patients safe. Here are some of the ways we were there for them, so they could be there for patients and doctors.

Health, wellbeing and flexibility

Since publishing Caring for doctors Caring for patients in 2019, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of connected, compassionate environments for doctors’ health and wellbeing. The same can also be said for our colleagues, and we’re dedicated to delivering just that.

The pandemic had a significant impact on all our daily lives, including our physical and mental health. We made it our priority to make sure colleagues had the help and support they needed, from flexible working, to access to trained mental health first aiders.

Our new Wellbeing plan, which was supported by our wellbeing champions, included sharing supportive resources and promoting an employer support advice line. We also updated our HR policies to provide additional flexibility for colleagues with additional responsibilities and pressures brought about by the pandemic. We continue to update these policies as the situation develops.

A place for everyone

Every one of our colleagues is unique and we continue to make decisions and develop initiatives that are for the benefit of everyone.

The events of 2020 brought to the fore longstanding issues around inequality, which we all need to play our part in tackling. Education, raising awareness and building our own knowledge and understanding are vital to us tackling these issues.

Our staff networks are an incredibly powerful support to colleagues who share protected characteristics, and they help to enrich the working lives of everyone at the GMC. The networks routinely hold events and share news, all with the important aims of educating, supporting and empowering individuals. Throughout 2020, we encouraged colleagues to read resources recommended by our staff networks, and to have open discussions about what more we can do as individuals and as an organisation.

In March 2020, we also rolled out updated mandatory training on Treating people fairly for all colleagues.

Training and development

Effective leadership can positively influence colleagues, teams and the whole organisation, so it’s important for us to invest in leaders. In 2020, more than 200 colleagues had successfully completed our leadership programme and 80 were part way through.

Building an understanding of doctors’ and patients’ experiences is crucial to keeping our work relevant and compassionate. Our ‘Brown bag lunches’ are just one of the ways we make this possible. Over 1,000 colleagues attended these talks, including Dr Paul Bowie’s discussion about human factors and Dr Pearl Hettiaratchy’s reflections on her career, including adjusting to a new life in the UK and confronting discrimination.

Throughout 2020, 75 colleagues also took part in development or cover secondments, which gave them opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge. We also continued to encourage colleagues to share feedback with one another and have open discussions with their manager to help their personal development.

Freedom to speak up

We’re committed to encouraging a culture where people feel safe to speak up – both those who work for us and those who work with us. Since March 2019, Lindsey Mallors has acted as our Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, alongside 15 cross-organisational Freedom to Speak Up Champions. Collectively, they provide a safe space and a route for colleagues to raise concerns.

Just over 80% of the concerns raised with the Freedom to Speak Up team were resolved in 2020. And work has continued into 2021 to resolve the few remaining issues. In some cases, the issues raised led to wider and sustained changes in the way we work. For example, reflecting on what we learnt in 2019, we initiated pulse surveys for colleagues throughout the year to assess organisational morale and pick up on potential issues early.

Throughout October 2020, which is Speak Up Month, we made a special effort to raise awareness of speaking up. As part of this, we welcomed Dr Chris Turner, a consultant in emergency medicine and founder of Civility Saves Lives, to talk to us about the impacts that rudeness can have in healthcare settings.

Next steps

We care about our colleagues. That’s why you’ll see a strong focus on us supporting and upskilling them, as well as creating a caring and inclusive culture in Our strategy 2021–25. The improvements we continue to make are setting us on course to achieve the Gold standard for Investors in People in 2021.