Intervening earlier to address risks to patient safety

A doctor’s ability to provide high-quality patient care depends on the environments they train and practise in. Inadequate premises, resources and systems can pose a risk to patient safety and confidence. It’s our mission to protect patients by taking action when there are concerns about the environments in which doctors work

Since we launched the Emerging Concerns Protocol with other regulators in July 2018, we’ve jointly intervened swiftly and effectively five times to prevent serious issues occurring.

In one instance, one of our Regional Liaison Advisers used the protocol to convene a review panel with other partner organisations after a doctor flagged concerns about poor-quality surgical equipment. The supplier had also provided equipment to several other public and private care organisations. The issue was escalated immediately within the GMC, and after the protocol was invoked, the organisations involved in the panel worked to address the issue as a matter of urgency. Within hours, the inadequate surgical items were removed, protecting both patients and staff.

The protocol has also been used to address concerns about:

  • a doctors’ experience of training and supervision
  • a trust’s emergency department and maternity unit
  • a particular treatment pathway.

The protocol, which covers England, provides a clear way for organisations with a role in ensuring the quality and safety of care to share information about risks to services that will affect patients, their carers and families, or medical professionals.

We’ll continue to track the impact of the protocol to make sure it’s being used to its full potential.