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How medical defence can benefit the whole practice team

Effective patient care is a team effort and it is important that the whole team has medical defence in place should there be a complaint, explains MDU head of professional standards and liaison Dr Michael Devlin.

General practice is a team effort (Photo: sturti/Getty Images)
General practice is a team effort (Photo: sturti/Getty Images)

General practice is increasingly being delivered via multidisciplinary teams of GPs, nursing and pharmacy staff and emerging roles such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and dieticians.

GPs are delegating more tasks to other suitably-qualified members of the practice team, from medication reviews to telephone triage. Effective teamwork is a common feature of the best-performing practices and can be key to a positive outcome and experience for patients.

MDU GROUPCARE

To learn more about the benefits of the MDU’s GROUPCARE scheme visit: https://www.themdu.com/groupcare or follow us @The_MDU

This article is funded by the MDU for GP Connect

Case study

As practice staff take on more responsibility, they may face criticism if things go wrong, as in the following fictional scenario, based on similar MDU cases:

A female patient in her 60s contacted her GP practice for an emergency appointment after feeling feverish and nauseated over the weekend. Unfortunately there were no emergency appointments available that day and the patient was advised to call back the following day if she was feeling no better.

The following day, the patient was given an appointment with a GP who examined her and explained she was most likely suffering from a viral infection. She reassured the patient and advised her to return if she felt no better.

The patient returned three days later following the onset of dysuria and drowsiness. She was seen by an advanced nurse practitioner who noted her history of UTIs and prescribed a course of antibiotics without obtaining a urine sample.

The nurse practitioner didn’t notice that previous infections had been resistant to the antibiotic he had prescribed. Over the next few days, the patient’s condition deteriorated and her husband took her to hospital where a pyelonephritis was diagnosed and she was treated with IV antibiotics. She responded well to the antibiotics and was well enough to be discharged the next day.

The patient’s husband contacted the practice to complain about the delayed diagnosis but was told by the practice manager that she couldn’t discuss the matter with him because of patient confidentiality.

The couple subsequently made a joint complaint to the practice, claiming that the care was inadequate and that their concerns had been disrespectfully dismissed. The couple also complained about their experience to the local media which covered the story.

Group membership

With the introduction of state-backed indemnity in England and Wales, practices need to continue with their medical defence organisation membership in order to access expert guidance with complaints and handling media interest, such as in the example above. Such medico-legal support is becoming increasingly important for the practice team.

With this in mind, MDU members can benefit from becoming a GROUPCARE practice. It’s free to set up, giving you access to a valuable range of exclusive practice benefits. Participating practices need to have at least half of their GPs as MDU members (with a minimum of two MDU GP principals or salaried doctors).

GROUPCARE benefits include:

  • Free practice-based seminars on topics including, good record keeping, treating children and young people and preventing and managing complaints.
  • Access to 24-hour medico-legal advice for the whole team.
  • A 10% saving for practices in England and Wales on the usual MDU subscription for NHS work undertaken by members of the practice team, when 100% of GPs in the practice are MDU members.
  • Free employment assistance helpline to provide wellbeing support for the whole team when 100% of GPs in the practice are MDU members.
  • Free practice manager membership.
  • Free employment law and health and safety advice line.
  • Discounted professional indemnity for nurse practitioners and nurses working in an extended role (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Channel Islands).
  • Free membership for up to two practice staff for every GP member (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Channel Islands).
  • Reduced and free attendance at our one day medico-legal CPD event.
  • Quick and easy access to manage scheme membership online.
  • Support from a team of dedicated local GP liaison managers.

To set up a MDU GROUPCARE scheme you can download an application form here or get in touch with your local GP liaison manager.

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