GMC asks doctors for views on getting effective feedback from patients

Doctors are being asked for their views on how they should collect and reflect on feedback from their patients, in a consultation launched today (Tuesday 30 April) by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Feedback from patients, as well as from colleagues, is part of the supporting information doctors need for revalidation, but independent reviews have shown that the processes for collecting this feedback need to be improved.

As a result, the regulator is now consulting on proposed changes to its guidance on how doctors should collect and reflect on feedback from patients, their families and carers to support their revalidation.

Una Lane, the GMC’s Director of Registration and Revalidation, says:
‘Patient feedback is among the most useful information doctors can get for their learning and reflection. But at a time when the profession is under such pressure it shouldn’t be a burden, and we know existing processes can make it more difficult than it should be.


"We want doctors, employers and patients to get involved in our consultation and help shape the way feedback works in the future, which we hope will ultimately help improve patient care."

Una Lane

Director of Registration and Revalidation

The GMC’s consultation document suggests that the feedback process should be accessible to as wide a range of patients as possible, and that doctors should rely less on structured questionnaires.

Dr Susi Caesar, Medical Director of Revalidation, the Royal College of General Practitioners, says:

‘Meaningful patient feedback promotes doctors’ professional development and helps create quality improvements in the care we provide. All doctors should get involved in this consultation and be part of the changes that work better for us.’

The regulator also wants doctors to review their patient feedback annually, rather than every five years when their revalidation is due; to use any unprompted feedback, such as letters, cards or comments; and to consider how to get feedback from a wide range of patients, including those with communication or learning difficulties.

With patients, their families and carers also being asked for their views on how it could be easier to give doctors feedback, Rea Mattocks, patient advocate and founder of the patients’ rights campaigning organisation, Birdshot Uveitis Society, says:

‘Generally, patients don’t really understand the value of giving feedback to their doctors. But they do have a powerful voice that can help shape the care a doctor gives to not only them but also to the person behind them in the waiting room. This is an important consultation, and a great opportunity for patients to get involved in something that can benefit us all.’

Full details of the consultation and how to get involved are on the GMC’s consultation website.