Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

GMC promises 'light touch' after warning about ‘state of unease’ in medical profession

The GMC has used its annual report to highlight a growing pressure on the medical profession, warning about the ‘state of unease’ among doctors, and saying a ‘light touch’ form of regulation is necessary. 

The State of Medical Education and Practice report says doctors in trainingare  feeling a ‘dangerous level of alienation’, particularly following the junior doctors’ contract disputes.

According to the report, GMC needs to respond to this state of unease with as ‘light touch as possible’ in their regulation although they argue that the GMC is ‘constrained by an out-of-date legal process that can only be transformed by legislative reform.’

It does, however, say that the GMC will go beyond its remit to help workforce planning, as well as define what ‘professionalism’ means.

The introduction to the report by GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson and chief executive Niall Dickson states: ‘There is a state of unease within the medical profession across the UK that risks affecting patients as well as doctors. The reasons for this are complex and multifactorial, and some are longstanding. Yet the signals of distress are unmistakeable.

‘This should not be seen as a counsel of despair but as a message to governments, employers, regulators, and the profession itself. The GMC is concerned because of the impact this might have on the professional standards for which we are responsible.’

They add: ‘There appears to be a general acceptance that the system cannot simply go on as before.’

The report said: ’The goal must be to make regulation as light touch as possible while maximising its impact. Working with other regulators, including those focused on the system such as CQC and Healthcare Improvement Scotland, we should also seek to reduce bureaucratic requirements without losing gains in patient safety.’

They go on to state that the GMC will look to:

  • develop a risk-based model of regulation;
  • revalue doctors in training;
  • engage on what professionalism means;
  • and even support those engaged in workforce planning, which is ‘traditionally’ beyond the remit of regulators of professionals.

Dr Ellen McCourt, BMA junior doctors’ committee chair, said: ’Over the past year, junior doctors across the country have raised concerns about the reality of working in an overstretched health service and the impact that has on their morale and patient care.

’The imposition of the new junior doctor contract has alienated junior doctors; it is vital that the Government works to rebuild trust and show staff across the NHS, who continue to work flat-out to keep the NHS going, that they are valued.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • If their main concern is patient safety, why aren't patients paying for it?
    Why are doctors still funding it?
    So if doctors need help they have to fight the GMC which they pay for with indemnity firms which they also pay for?
    So they have to pay twice for defending themselves? Infact they are paying for the whole expensive proceedure. It is a hopeless situation and completely unfair and unbalanced.
    Why cannot the patient pay for at least half of this?
    The GMC will never be reasonable as the whole foundation and funding of its existance is unfair.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The GMC is but one member of a ring of abusers that make a career out of making doctors lives hell. They hide behind their 'patient safety' mantra whilst being ever ready to do the government's bidding such as issuing veiled threats to striking doctors or hounding doctors until they kill themselves. They operate a corrupt quasi-judicial system that acts with impunity and is not subject to the same checks and balances of UK law. It's too late for this organization to listen, it needs to be reformed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The GMC is not fit to practice.
    Who can we refer it to?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • GMC 'Working beyond it's remit'
    Whatever next?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What would be nice would be for the GMC to clearly state: "There is a climate of unease to which we have contributed. We wholeheartedly apologise to the medical profession for our over zealous and wrong approach to the regulation of doctors. These people were responsible.... and they have been removed from their posts."

    Dream on - instead we get the mealy mouthed sort of admission of possible having maybe etc etc.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I just hope and pray that the GMC, CQC, Defence fees, The D. M., NHSE, list cleansing, MPIG cutting etc will put an end to this utterly iniquitous system where doctors work without any protection [ like 91 hours a week or 45 patients a day], and yet supposedly work in an Utopia where they have all the time in the world, because as soon as you make a mistake, there is a GMC expert telling you off about the myriad things you should have done as if you had a whole hour per patient.
    Doctor work long hours under severe strain and stress and nobody seems to have any duty of care to them, least of all their employing Trusts nor the Royal colleges nor the BMA.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Light touch with maximum impact? What exactly does that mean?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I left the UK for Canada after a patient's parent complained I was dishonest and wanted me struck off. 2 years of anxiety followed by full GMC tribunal showed I had not been dishonest and that I provided excellent care to the patient. No acknowledgment of the impact on my health or my family. Now in Canada- I don't get any complaints, get paid very well and MDU payment is 1/5th of the UK. My advice to doctors - leave the UK. GMC will not change. If they were not apologetic to doctors committing suicide from strain of unnecessary investigations and harsh sanctions, they won't change anything. They need to change their decision making to beyond reasonable doubt from balance of probability. They should also ensure patients pay for investigations costs that are found not to be true. That would be the most efficient way of handling frivolous investigations.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm currently trying to get medical indemnity for private practice after taking year out. Insurance companies now want all the documentation from any GMC investigation. I had a horrible year after a depressed patient killed herself 2 weeks after discharge and was being followed up by another team and psychologist, all of whom thought she was getting better. The mother complained about me to the GMC 1 year after the event. The GMC weighed mycontemporaneous evidence as equal to her retrospective evidence and it took an independent expert to go against the GMCs 'expert' (who had been out of clinical frontline for 10years) to get the case dropped. This cause undue stress to me and my family, huge burn out in me and had a massive knock on effect on my confidence.
    I now have to declare all of this. I am waiting for the GMC to give me the documents I need for the insurance and I'm really concerned it will effect my premium despite never having done anything wrong at all.
    Like previous post I paid for the prosecution and defence of the case and I am still paying.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 12.41 pm. very well said.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say