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Reducing stress for doctors going through investigations

In 2015 we appointed Professor Louis Appleby from the University of Manchester as an independent expert to advise us on how to reduce the impact and stress of a fitness to practise investigation. This followed an independent review which we had previously commissioned to look at cases where doctors died from suicide while under GMC investigation between 2005 (when we introduced electronic data systems) and 2013. The aim of the review was to establish whether the impact of a GMC investigation could be reduced to minimise stress, particularly for doctors who are already under considerable stress and who may be vulnerable..

Professor Appleby worked closely with our policy teams to review every stage of the investigation process and identify what changes (both small and fundamental) could be made. We developed and have now implemented those proposals.

Some of the key changes include ensuring we only carry out a formal investigation where necessary, co-ordinating our approach so doctors under investigation have a single point of contact throughout the process (to reduce anxiety caused by receiving correspondence from different members of staff), improving how we communicate across the whole GMC with such doctors and establishing a specialist team for handling cases where doctors are unwell, with a process to pause an investigation to allow a very unwell doctor to obtain treatment.

Read about more of the changes we’ve made

Read other updates on this work: