A message to the profession from GMC Chair Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen

There can’t be a single person in this country who is unaware of the pressures facing the health service and how this is impacting patients in need of care.

For those caught up in these challenges on a daily basis, from staff shortages to lack of space, patient delays to unserviceable demand, the situation is causing deep distress. Doctors from all regions and in every grade and specialty are struggling to provide the care that patients deserve, despite their best attempts.

None of us wants to work in this way. And I know that there are severe concerns about the impact these difficulties have, not only on the patients we are treating, but also on those treating them – leading to the debilitating and damaging feeling of moral injury. That’s why our role is to support you to deliver the best possible care.

It is clear that there’s no switch that we, the GMC, can flick to magically fix things, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a part to play in improving the situation. We know that the environments in which you work determine how you do your job, and we’re committed to using our energies and influence to improve them. Whether that’s helping to implement workplace cultures that allow every doctor to thrive, sharing our extensive data with employers to pinpoint how to make the most out of the existing and future workforce or making revalidation as supportive, flexible and meaningful as it can be.

My belief is that solutions do not occur as some seismic event but appear in the small improvements that each of us, at all levels, can make every day, be that individual practitioners, medical regulators or other health bodies. There is a fear that energy and hope may be waning. But from my conversations with colleagues across the system, I know that everyone shares a great will to turn the tide, and a passionate belief that we must not allow this to become the status quo. 

We have committed to taking account of the circumstances in which doctors are working should concerns be raised about them, and I reiterate that again here.

But I also want to make the point that I’ve heard many of you making – that the answer to the present difficulties must not be a degradation of patient care. It is in no-one’s interests to accept slippage in the high professional standards we have set ourselves. That’s why we will continue to do all we can to improve things for you and your patients, as you strive to do all you can for those in your care.

I encourage you to use our webpages designed to help you apply our guidance in practice. Many are also finding it helpful to record the decisions they’re taking in the context of these extraordinary pressures. I would encourage all doctors to do this.

Remember that, even in the most difficult of circumstances, you are lifting spirits, improving outcomes and transforming lives. Take time to acknowledge these positives and take pride in all that you’ve done and continue to do. 

With my warmest regards, 

Carrie MacEwen

Chair of the General Medical Council