New GMC guidance ‘Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety’ (2012)

Discuss the new GMC guidance ‘Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety’ (2012)?

The guidance comes into effect on 12 March 2012 and will replace Raising concerns about patient safety (2006). The publication of Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety is especially timely given the recent findings of the Mid Staffordshire enquiry.

Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety (2012) sets out that that all doctors have a duty to act when they believe patients’ safety is at risk, or that patients’ care or dignity is being compromised.

The guidance 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 doctors.

Part 2: Acting on a concern explains doctors’ responsibilities when colleagues or others raise concerns with them and how those concerns should be handled.

Part 1: Raising a concern

  1. All doctors have a duty to raise concerns
  2. Overcoming obstacles to reporting

You may be reluctant to report a concern for a number of reasons. For example, because you fear that nothing will be done or that raising your concern may cause problems for colleagues; have a negative effect on working relationships; have a negative effect on your career; or result in a complaint about you. If you are hesitating about reporting a concern for these reasons, you should bear the following in mind.

  • You have a duty to put patients’ interests first and act to protect them, which overrides personal and professional loyalties.
  • The law provides legal protection against victimisation or dismissal for individuals who reveal information to raise genuine concerns and expose malpractice in the workplace.*
  • You do not need to wait for proof – you will be able to justify raising a concern if you do so honestly, on the basis of reasonable belief and through appropriate channels, even if you are mistaken.
  1. Steps to raise a concern
  • Local incident reporting systems
  • If you have reason to believe that patients are, or may be, at risk of death or serious harm for any reason, you should report your concern to the appropriate person or organisation immediately. Do not delay doing so because you yourself are not in a position to put the matter right.
  • Report to the regulatory body (GMC) in the following circumstances: a.If you cannot raise the issue with the responsible person or body locally because you believe them to be part of the problem. b. If you have raised your concern through local channels but are not satisfied that the responsible person or body has taken adequate action. c. If there is an immediate serious risk to patients, and a regulator or other external body has responsibility to act or intervene
  • Making a concern public: You can consider making your concerns public if you: a. have done all you can to deal with any concern by raising it within the organisation in which you work or which you have a contract with, or with the appropriate external body, and b. have good reason to believe that patients are still at risk of harm, and c. do not breach patient confidentiality.

Wherever possible, you should first raise your concern with your manager or an appropriate officer of the organisation you have a contract with or which employs you – such as the consultant in charge of the team, the clinical or medical director or a practice partner. If your concern is about a partner, it may be appropriate to raise it outside the practice – for example, with the medical director or clinical governance lead responsible for your organisation. If you are a doctor in training, it may be appropriate to raise your concerns with a named person in the deanery – for example, the postgraduate dean or director of postgraduate general practice education.

Part 2: Acting on concerns

All doctors have a responsibility to encourage and support a culture in which staff can raise concerns openly and safely. Concerns about patient safety can come from a number of sources, such as patients’ complaints, colleagues’ concerns, critical incident reports and clinical audit. Concerns may be about inadequate premises, equipment, other resources, policies or systems, or the conduct, health or performance of staff or multidisciplinary teams. If you receive this information, you have a responsibility to act on it promptly and professionally. You can do this by putting the matter right (if that is possible), investigating and dealing with the concern locally, or referring serious or repeated incidents or complaints to senior management or the relevant regulatory authority.

Who can help if you are not sure what to do? Answer here

Link to the guidance

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