Letters, calls and emails: GPs must report each other for public safety

Dear Editor

Dr Chris Lancelot writes that ‘until relatively recently GMC regulations stated that if you criticised a colleague publicly you could yourself be charged with bringing the profession into disrepute’ (GP, 20 April). This has not been the case since 1991.

Doctors have a vital role in protecting patients from harm. Part of this role is in protecting patients from risk posed by another colleague’s conduct, performance, or health.

The GMC’s core guidance, Good Medical Practice, states that if doctors are concerned that a colleague may not be fit to practise, they must take steps without delay to explain those concerns to an appropriate person from a doctors’ employing or contracting body.

This guidance is expanded in supplementary guidance published last year on raising concerns about patient safety.

Our booklet on management also places a duty on doctors with management responsibilities to make sure that systems are in place through which colleagues can raise concerns.

Dr Lancelot also writes that public confidence in the profession will be enhanced if more doctors report their failing colleagues. While this is important, the overriding reason for taking steps to ensure concerns are investigated is the safety of patients.

Jane O’Brien
GMC head of standards and ethics

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