Hospital Dr News

Striking juniors will face GMC investigation if their patients come to harm as a result

The GMC has warned juniors that they could be investigated – and potentially struck off –  if their patients come to harm because they go on strike.

The regulator’s guidance comes as junior doctors are being balloted over industrial action, with three days already earmarked in December. Two involve a full walk-out from work.

It warns that the GMC will investigate any case when a doctor’s actions during industrial action caused a patient serious harm, or put patients at risk of serious harm.

The regulator says doctors have a legal right to strike but that they “must make the care of their patients their first concern”.

The BMA failed in a legal attempt to prevent regulators from issuing the guidance on professional duties.

The guidance says: “We would not take action against a doctor for exercising their legal right to take industrial action. However, we would investigate information suggesting that a doctor’s actions during the taking of such industrial action had caused a patient serious harm, or put patients at risk of serious harm, whatever the motive underlying the doctor’s actions.”

Niall Dickson, CEO of the GMC, commented: “Doctors should take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that arrangements are in place to care for their patients and should not disrupt the arrangements employers have made. Doctors have a responsibility for continuity and coordination of care, and for the safe transfer of patients between different teams. Their actions must not harm patients or put them at risk.

“We recognise that the circumstances facing each doctor will be different, and it will therefore be a matter for each individual to assess their own situation and make sure this guidance is followed.”

The ballot closes at 5pm on Weds 18 November.

The action, if voted for, will begin with an emergency care-only model, which would see junior doctors provide the same level of service that happens in their given specialty, hospital or GP practice on Christmas Day.

It will then escalate to full walk-outs. The action is proposed as:

Emergency care only — from 8am, Tuesday 1 December to 8am Wednesday 2 December

Full walk out — from 8am to 5pm, Tuesday 8 December

Full walk out — from 8am to 5pm, Wednesday 16 December.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said: “It sounds like an oxymoron when talking about industrial action, but we genuinely want to minimise any disruption to other NHS staff and, above all, to patients.

“Our dispute is with the Government and our ballot for industrial action is a last resort in the face of their continued intransigence.”

Sarah Wollaston MP, a former GP and now the chair of the Health Select Committee, said the plan was “far too extreme”, coming in the middle of what is traditionally the busiest period of the year for the NHS.

“I think it is not putting patients first, I think this will be highly unsafe for patients,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Bookmark and Share

One Response to “Striking juniors will face GMC investigation if their patients come to harm as a result”

  1. jfletcher says:

    Someone needs to let the GMC know that junior doctors don’t ‘have’ patients in the proprietorial sense of the word. It’s questionable whether even consultants ‘have’ patients any more, given the fragmentation of care. The only entity that can meaningfully be said to have over-arching care for hospital in-patients is the acute trust concerned

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation