GMC to train doctors in tackling unprofessional behaviour at work

The GMC has launched a training programme to give doctors the confidence to tackle unprofessional behaviour in the workplace and improve patient safety across the healthcare sector.

A pilot scheme to be announced by GMC chair Dame Clare Marx at the regulator’s annual conference on Wednesday has been developed in response to ‘growing evidence’ of unprofessional behaviour in the NHS - including a GMC survey that found 40% of doctors felt that some colleagues ‘undermine respect and prevent effective collaboration’.

Meanwhile, 60% of the survey’s 1,000 respondents said they ‘would not be confident that they’d be supported by clinical leaders and other managers if they raised a concern’.

The scheme to tackle unprofessional behaviour comes just days after GPonline revealed a culture of 'institutional sexism' within the BMA's GP committee, with senior female GPC members warning that a generation of leaders is being driven out of the profession.

Patient safety

Dame Clare Marx said: ‘All of the evidence shows us that when clinical environments are poorly-led, unprofessional behaviour goes unchallenged and patient safety suffers. We are acting on the evidence we have heard from clinicians and their experiences of unprofessional behaviour to give doctors the skills and confidence to lead the changes needed now and in the future to continue to deliver great patient care.’

The roll-out of the pilot programme ‘Professional behaviours and patient safety’ - which has been developed with several medical royal colleges - will initially be delivered in at least 14 sites by the GMC’s outreach team and engage with clinicians on the frontline to give doctors the ‘skills and confidence to deal with unprofessional behaviour’.

Dame Clare added: ‘The vast majority of doctors act with great compassion and professionalism. If we equip them to challenge poor behaviour in others we will enable them to deliver the care they want to provide. Our aim is to create the right environment for safe professional practice and to support a profession under pressure to deliver good care – we want this to be a practical tool for developing a just culture for the NHS.’

Healthwatch England chair Sir Robert Francis said: ‘Bullying and undermining stops everyone talking to each other. It makes people afraid so that they don’t share confidences and concerns, and that’s really dangerous for patients because unsafe practices are allowed to carry on. We all need to role model the behaviours we can be proud of, but there needs to be training in how to have difficult conversations with each other.’

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