Annual report on whistleblowing from healthcare regulators published

The General Medical Council (GMC) has today joined seven other healthcare regulators to publish an annual report on whistleblowing disclosures.

The report shows that 43 concerns were raised by whistleblowers, to the GMC, in the 12 months between April 2020 and March this year, an increase on the previous year when 36 concerns were raised.

Of those, 17 were made by doctors, ten by other healthcare professionals and 16 were anonymous. The number of anonymous whistleblowers has doubled from eight in 2019/20. 

Of the 42 disclosures assessed by the GMC’s fitness to practise team:

  • 26 were closed after an initial assessment
  • Two are currently being assessed
  • 14 resulted in either a preliminary or full investigation – 11 of these are still going through the investigation process and three have been closed.

Of the disclosures closed after an initial assessment or a preliminary or full investigation, some of the reasons for closure included:

  • the disclosure was being or had already been handled locally
  • advice was given to the discloser
  • the disclosure was outside of the GMC’s remit, for example a local employment dispute
  • no concerns were found from the information provided.

One disclosure was handled by the GMC’s registration and revalidation team, and resulted in regulatory action and onward referral to an alternative body.

"We may be moving through the pandemic, but pressures and challenging working environments remain, and it important to stress that we take whistleblowing disclosures very seriously"

Anna Rowland

Assistant Director for Policy and Business Transformation

Anna Rowland, the GMC’s Assistant Director for Policy and Business Transformation, says:

‘It is reassuring that doctors and other healthcare professionals feel secure enough to raise concerns to the GMC. We may be moving through the pandemic, but pressures and challenging working environments remain, and it important to stress that we take whistleblowing disclosures very seriously.

‘Whistleblowers need to feel that they will be supported if they speak up. We have a confidential helpline for those concerned about patient safety, and guidance for doctors on raising and acting on concerns.’

The GMC’s confidential helpline for raising concerns – 0161 923 6399 – is available between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Information on raising concerns is also available on the GMC’s Speaking up ethical hub.

This Whistleblowing disclosures report 2021 is published jointly by the GMC with the General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.