GMC investigation decisions “fair and consistent” says new research

Decisions made by the General Medical Council (GMC) during investigations into doctors who have been subject of a serious complaint are “fair and consistent” according to independent research published today.

The review, carried out by researchers at Plymouth University, found that the decisions made in 187 randomly selected cases were appropriate as well as being in line with GMC guidance criteria.

“There are more than a quarter of a million doctors on our register and relatively few are subject to a GMC investigation, but we recognise that the process can be extremely stressful for anyone involved”, said Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC.

“While we must never lose our focus on protecting patients, we are doing all we can to reduce the stress for doctors and indeed for patients and relatives, and to make sure our investigations are fair, transparent and in line with our guidance.”

The Plymouth University research team also identified a number of areas for improvement and has given the GMC a series of recommendations which will be used to inform investigations in future.

Mr Dickson: “We commissioned this research to make sure our decision-making is fair and consistent and to see what lessons we could learn to improve our procedures. Independent evaluation is essential to ensure that we remain effective and fair.

“While the findings of this report have been positive, we accept that this will always be a controversial and sensitive area and we know there is more we can do. We will take forward the learning points identified, and we will continue to do everything we can to speed up our processes, reduce the stress of our investigations, and support those who are subject to our processes.”

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