Helping doctors to speak up when they have concerns about patient safety

Doctors who attend our workshops are clear that they wouldn’t hesitate to raise a concern when immediate patient safety is at stake. But they face a number of barriers that can make this difficult.

The main challenges relate to understanding the reporting routes and complications with the local systems in place for raising a concern. To tackle this, our workshops introduce doctors to the support that is available at their workplace, by making connections to the Freedom to Speak Up Guardians and other local systems for raising concerns in the four countries.

Doctors in training told us the workshops helped them to realise that even concerns that don’t seem to relate to patient safety can and must be raised.

As part of our efforts to support doctors to speak up, we are extending our partnership with the national Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and the network of guardians across England. This includes on-the-ground support for guardians and sharing information on risks to the profession and patients across England.

We have also appointed our own Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at the GMC.

In Scotland, we are working with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman on the implementation of the new Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland. 

Our liaison services will continue to work closely with doctors and their employers across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to provide support to those who speak up.

We’ve also introduced a number of safeguards to protect doctors who raise a concern. You can read more about this in our Annual report 2018.