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GMC referrals hit all-time high

GMC referrals hit all-time high

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More doctors are being referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) “than ever before”, says the regulator.

The number of referrals by medical directors and other public bodies to the GMC has doubled between 2007 and 2010 to reach 1,395 a year.

In a survey of around 100 medical directors, it was found that there was an increased commitment among doctors themselves to report concerns, as well as patients feeling “more empowered” to complain.

Over 85% of medical directors surveyed had made a referral to the GMC in the past five years, 95% of which contacted the National Clinical Assessment Service for advice.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC claims more complaints about doctors could be a sign that the systems to identify problems are improving.

“Our research certainly suggests that employers are giving priority to detecting and dealing with concerns and that has to be welcome,” he said. 

‘In addition, rather than keeping quiet about problems, doctors are more likely to speak up when they see anything that could pose a risk to patient safety. And that is exactly as it should be.

“There is no cause for complacency and we know there is more to do in this area, but the system is becoming more open and we have come a long way from the idea of medicine as an ‘old boys’ club’.”

The GMC plans to launch a liaison service to support medical directors in dealing with concerns about doctors they are responsible for.

"It is encouraging that the GMC recognises that employers are giving priority to reporting concerns and that this is having a positive impact on patient safety,” said Dean Royles, Director of the NHS Employers organisation.

"Encouragingly the GMC report shows that 95% of referrals by employers to the GMC were also highlighted to the National Clinical Assessment Service. This suggests that they are not only taking steps to protect the public but also seeking to resolve the problem, reflecting the duty of care employers have both to the public and the staff they employ.”

The trend of increased medical referrals is matched elsewhere, with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the NHS Information Centre both reporting a rise in complaints.

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