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The experience of doctors who have been through our complaints procedures

What were the key findings?

Some of the responses to the written survey highlighted positive views of aspects of the fitness to practise procedures. The tone of communications was seen to be professional by 73% of respondents and doctors felt that they, or their representatives, had been given sufficient time to comment on their case (80%).

However, the majority of responses identified areas where we could make improvements. For instance the most frequent responses to two open questions that asked for suggested improvements included:

  • a general desire to see improved communication, with the GMC keeping doctors informed of how their case was progressing throughout this process
  • improving initial vetting of cases to better identify those that should not be progressed
  • speeding up the whole process, which was felt to take too long.

Doctors who were interviewed expressed similar views and covered many of the issues identified in the written survey. Some examples of additional areas for improvement identified by interviewees included:

  • a desire for face to face discussion between the doctor and the GMC
  • a perception that case examiners and assessors had a lack of understanding about the nature of individual doctors’ complaints and surrounding issues
  • a need to improve our interaction with doctors under investigation and clearer reassurance that they were considered ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

Why did we commission this research?

This research was part of a broader programme of work to understand how those individuals that become involved in our fitness to practise procedures, whether through making a complaint or being the subject of a complaint, experience these procedures and what we can learn from these experiences.

What did the research involve?

A survey was undertaken of doctors who had a case that closed in 2010. The survey was complimented by interviews with a random sample of doctors who had completed the survey and had indicated that they were willing to participate in further research.

How are we responding to the findings?

Our action plan explains what we are doing in response to this research.

Full report

Exploring the experience of doctors who have been through our complaints procedures.