Guidance to doctors working under system pressure

The GMC's Chief Executive sets out guidance for doctors dealing with the current high-demand across the health service

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said:

‘I know how hard doctors, and all health care professionals, are working to provide good care in very difficult circumstances this winter.

‘Knowing this season would be challenging the service has clearly worked very hard to prepare but difficult decisions have had to be made including cancelling routine surgery and clearly this will be distressing for many patients.

'If a doctor believes their work environment is unsafe or that they are unable to maintain standards of care we urge them to flag their concerns. We expect those responsible for running the services to listen, consider and act on those concerns.

‘We understand that it’s not always easy to raise an issue but it must be done. Doctors who need advice have a number of options. They may reach out to a senior member of staff, a medical defence body, their royal college or the BMA. We also have a confidential hotline (0161 923 6399) for doctors who feel they can’t report their concern at a local level.

‘It is a doctor’s duty to put their patients first but they mustn’t discount their own health and well-being. We know teams are under immense pressure and this increases the risk of ill-health. We hope doctors will do all they can to look after their own health during these pressured times. If you have concerns about the health of a colleague encourage them to seek help if it’s needed.

‘We know some doctors in training could be asked to forgo learning opportunities due to heavy workloads. In this situation doctors in England should make use of exception reporting, a system through which they can flag issues including work hour breaches and missed training sessions. It’s crucial that doctors make their concerns known so they can be addressed.’