GPs have called on the GPC to take action to prevent CCGs imposing so-called ‘gagging clauses’ on their members.
A motion to oppose the clauses was passed unanimously following a Pulse investigation this year, which revealed that at least five CCGs carried clauses in their constitutions ensuring that GPs could not speak about the CCG without the permission of the governing body.
Some GPs even claimed they have in the past seen colleagues disciplined for speaking out.
Dr Fiona Armstrong from Kent LMC said such clauses are in direct conflict with all the advice and guidance given to NHS staff to speak out about any concerns over patient safety.
‘In our brave new world this may be a member practice within a CCG concerned about the quality of services for patients or even about the governing body itself,’ Dr Armstrong said.
‘We have a duty as doctors to create an environment where doctors can report and act on concerns. This needs to be embedded throughout the organisational culture.’
Dr Armstrong said gagging clauses are ‘void’ and in conflict with public interest legislation, while openness and honesty are key to patient safety and failure to whistleblow has had tragic consequences.
‘I call on the GPC to ensure GPs’ concerns are investigated without prejudice and that we ensure CCGs comply with the various guidelines throughout the organisation.’
Speaking in support of the motion, Dr Surendra Dhariwal, from City and East London LMC, said ‘we have seen some of our colleagues disciplined for speaking out – it is about time the GPC negotiates full protection if we do blow the whistle’.