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Reaction to the GMC’s ‘State of Med Ed’ report

Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

“It is good news that the number of surgeons on the specialist register has increased.  The NHS needs more surgeons to ensure high quality surgery seven days a week.

“We are committed to attracting the best doctors to becoming surgeons, regardless of their gender or background.  It is encouraging that there was a 42 % increase in women becoming surgeons during this three year period, but overall only 10 per cent of surgical consultants are women.  We are still faced with the very considerable challenge of making sure women reach the top echelons in surgery and the NHS.

“This College, particularly with a woman president, plays an important part in raising the profile of women in surgery.  We also hold leadership events and provide networking opportunities.”

Dr Catherine Wills, deputy head of advisory services at the MDU

“The importance of reviewing an adverse incident and ensuring the necessary changes are made to the doctor’s practice are obviously integral to good practice. But the GMC’s findings show that a doctor who demonstrates insight by taking appropriate remedial action and apologising where necessary will often fare better at a fitness to practise hearing.

“In our experience apologising early to a patient or their family when something goes wrong can help to prevent a complaint altogether or resolve one more quickly. A recent survey of 677 MDU members found 99% knew about their ethical duty to provide an explanation and apology to patients. Of those involved in an incident more than 90% had apologised to the patient or their family.

“The GMC also found that doctors had a greater chance of demonstrating their post-event insight if they had legal representation than if they chose to represent themselves. This shows the benefit of medical defence organisation membership as our experienced solicitors can help the doctor prepare their case and present evidence of remediation.”

“While it is obviously concerning that the number of complaints made to the GMC is 64% higher in 2013 than in 2010, this must be seen in the context that healthcare regulators throughout the world are seeing rises in complaints. We agree with the GMC that ‘there is no evidence that this is the result of poorer care and it seems much more likely to be the product of changing expectations’.

Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers organisation

“We welcome the insight that the report gives into the source, nature and outcome of complaints about doctors. We are pleased to see that, over a four year period, ninety percent of complaints brought by trusts have been investigated.

“The NHS has sought to help more doctors into emergency medicine roles and it is encouraging to see this working. Those additional doctors will have a key role in managing pressure on A&E, supported by increasing numbers of other doctors, nurses and support staff. However numbers are not the whole picture and reconfiguration must continue so that the NHS can adapt to changing demand, including moving more services into the community and developing projects such as co-located minor injury clinics.

“It is great that talented women increasingly feel able to join careers in surgery and other specialisms, which can only help the NHS to provide the high quality care that patients want.”

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