Dilemma: GP criticises colleagues in public
One GP at CCG meetings routinely criticises colleagues who are not there to defend themselves. What should you do about it?
Dr Donal Hynes: Ask the person to meet you individually
The ability to be a team player is so important when trying to implement commissioning processes. If we ourselves can’t integrate as a group what chance do we have of commissioning integrated services for our population? Disruptive behaviour such as castigating absent colleagues damages our ability to secure quality care. It is not just uncomfortable, but destructive. Also, time is limited for our opportunity to get commissioning right.
You could simply repeat verbatim the comments in the critical GP’s presence at subsequent meetings when those castigated are also present.
But this person might not take the hint regards the consequences of their actions.
It might be more efficient to tackle the problem by asking the person to meet you individually. Explain the fundamental premise about having total focus on patient care, and the need to support fellow commissioners in order to achieve that aim. If necessary, repeat some of the disruptive comments to ensure the GP can hear the nature of their remarks. Then ask him or her to make a choice: do they feel they can adapt and continue with this important work or do they feel they may be better using their skills elsewhere in the CCG?
Dr Donal Hynes is a GP in Bridgwater, Somerset and co-vice chair of the NHS Alliance.
Dr Zaid Al-Najjar: Discuss it with the chair of the meeting
This is an unfortunate but not altogether uncommon scenario in many fields of medicine.
Rather than continue to feel uncomfortable, it would be appropriate to speak with the chair of the whatever CCG group you belong to, and ask them to inform everyone that this is not the right forum in which to discuss concerns about colleagues.
You may want to suggest that the chair takes up any concerns with the GPs or practices involved to give them the opportunity to reply.
The General Medical Council, in paragraphs 46 and 47 of Good Medical Practice states: ‘You must treat your colleagues fairly and with respect…You should challenge colleagues if their behaviour does not comply with this guidance…You must not make malicious and unfounded criticisms of colleagues that may undermine patients’ trust in the care or treatment they receive, or in the judgement of those treating them.’
This type of behaviour needs to be kept in check; if a doctor is critical of a colleague’s clinical management in front of patients, it could not only prompt a complaint or claim but it undermines the profession as a whole.
Dr Zaid Al-Najjar is a medicolegal adviser at the Medical Protection Society.