The GMC responds to Pulse’s story on criticism of its changes to Good Medical Practice
Last week’s Pulse story Proposed GMC threshold change could ‘open the floodgates’ to FTP investigations will have raised concerns among readers about the potential impact of proposed updates to our Good medical practice guidance.
Our proposed wording changes are not intended to signal any difference to the threshold for fitness-to-practise investigations.
Patient safety is our ultimate priority, and we know avoidable investigations are not in the interests of patients or doctors.
We’re consistently working to focus our fitness-to-practise investigations only where we need to act, within the limitations of our current legislation. By law, we’re currently required to investigate any allegation a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired. We want this to change so we only need investigate where we believe action may be necessary to protect the public.
We welcome reform of our outdated legal powers and remain ready to progress as soon as the Department of Health and Social Care lays the necessary legislation. Reform means we’ll be able to deal with complaints faster and more flexibly.
The proposed new wording is intended to better explain when we may take action, to reassure medical professionals and to make it clearer to patients.
We’ve sought views on this and all proposed changes to Good medical practice, and now our three-month consultation has ended we’ll look carefully at the views of patients, doctors, medical defence organisations, and others, before producing our updated guidance.
We wanted a range of perspectives on the changes we had proposed, and we’re pleased with the high response our consultation has had. It’s vital that Good medical practice reflects the reality faced by doctors and supports them to do the best for their patients and their colleagues.
We’re analysing the responses we’ve received, and will continue to involve medical defence organisations, and doctors’ representative bodies, as we finalise the guidance. We’ll share updates throughout the year and expect to publish the updated guidance in 2023.
Mark Swindells is assistant director of the standards and ethics team at the GMC