Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety

About our Raising and acting on concerns guidance

1

This guidance sets out our expectation that all doctors will, whatever their role, take appropriate action to raise and act on concerns about patient care, dignity and safety. 

2

 Good medical practice (2024) says:

75. You must take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is or may be seriously compromised.

a.  If a patient is not receiving basic care to meet their needs, you must act to make sure the patient is cared for as soon as possible, for example by asking someone who delivers basic care to attend to the patient straight away.

b. If patients are at risk because of inadequate premises, equipment or other resources, policies or systems, you should first protect patients and put the matter right if that’s possible. Then you must raise your concern in line with your workplace policy and our more detailed guidance on Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety.

c. If you have concerns that a colleague may not be fit to practise and may be putting patients at risk, you must ask for advice from a colleague, your defence body, or us. If you are still concerned, you must report this, in line with your workplace policy and our more detailed guidance on Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety

76. If you have a formal leadership or management role, you must take active steps to create an environment in which people can talk about errors and concerns safely. This includes making sure that any concerns raised with you are dealt with promptly and adequately, in line with your workplace policy and our more detailed guidance on Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety.

3

This guidance, which forms part of the professional standards, explains how to apply the principles in Good medical practice. It is separated into two parts.

  • Part 1: Raising a concern gives advice on raising a concern that patients might be at risk of serious harm, and on the help and support available to you. 
  • Part 2: Acting on a concern explains your responsibilities when colleagues or others raise concerns with you and how those concerns should be handled. 2 
2

General Medical Council (2012) Leadership and management for all doctors.

How this guidance applies to you

4

In this guidance, the terms ‘you must’ and ‘you should’ are used in the following ways. 

  • ‘You must’ is used for a legal or ethical duty you’re expected to meet (or be able to justify why you didn’t). 
  • 'You should’ is used for duties or principles that either:
    • may not apply to you or to the situation you’re currently in, or
    • you may not be able to comply with because of factors outside your control
5

The professional standards describe good practice, and not every departure from them will be considered serious. You must use your professional judgement to apply the standards to your day-to-day practice. If you do this, act in good faith and in the interests of patients, you will be able to explain and justify your decisions and actions. We say more about professional judgement, and how the professional standards relate to our fitness to practise processes, appraisal and revalidation, at the beginning of Good medical practice

6

If you are not sure how this guidance applies to your situation, you should get advice from the individuals and bodies suggested in this guidance.