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Research into fitness to practise referrals from persons acting in a public capacity

What were the key findings

We commissioned this research to investigate the increase in fitness to practise enquiries made to us from persons acting in a public capacity (PAPCs), that is people acting on behalf of a public organisation (eg an NHS trust), during the period 2006 to 2010.

The findings were based on:

  • an analysis of Fitness to Practise data from 2006 to 2010
  • 40 qualitative interviews with doctors from NHS trusts and health boards from across the UK
  • an online quantitative survey of medical directors who had made at least one fitness to practise referral during the period 2006 to 2010.

The final report is split into the following three sections.

  • How fitness to practise cases are handled within healthcare organisations
  • How referral rates have changed during the period 2006 to 2010
  • Views on what is driving this increase.

Overall findings reveal a general increase in the number of doctors referred to us by medical directors and other bodies. While this rise has been constant for secondary care providers, a more significant increase has been observed within primary care.

Medical directors attributed the overall increase in PAPC referrals to three main factors.

  • Changes in public attitudes, in part driven by some awareness of high profile cases.
  • Changes in colleagues’ attitudes, driven largely by the perceived improvement in systems for raising confidential concerns.
  • Improved governance and management systems for detecting and dealing with performance concerns, and an increased focus on outcomes and maintaining high standards of patient safety.

The study additionally revealed a strong desire for further support and guidance from us about our fitness to practise procedures. 85% of respondents to the online survey welcomed the opportunity for future discussions with a local GMC affiliate or representative in this regard.

I want the full report 

Research into fitness to practise referrals – 2011 final report.