Doctors Could be Struck Off for Failing to Apologize to Patients

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Leading UK law firm Accident Advice Helpline comment on the GMC’s plans to make doctors apologise to patients and their relatives if they make a mistake.

Accident Advice Helpline

Accident Advice Helpline

New proposals set by the General Medical Council (GMC) could force doctors to apologize for mistakes they make. Under the sanctions, doctors could be struck off after harming patients even in cases where they’ve been retained and shown improvement. These tougher sanctions are not to point fingers at people but are to give bereaved families the chance to hear that the mistake won’t happen again. If doctors are genuinely remorseful when they make a mistake then this shouldn’t be too difficult.

The GMC regulates all doctors in the UK and said that their intentions were to protect patients in the small number of cases where stronger action is expected. Niall Dickson the chief executive of the General Medical Council said, “If we are to maintain that trust, in the small number of serious cases where doctors fail to listen to concerns and take action sooner to protect patients, they should be held accountable for their actions.”

Leading UK law firm Accident Advice Helpline commented saying, “People don’t expect to be let down by a medical professional but if they are, an apology can mean more than they’d think. To know that someone has acknowledged they’d made a mistake and were set on making sure it didn’t happen again is peace of mind for many people.”

Doctors who are found to be bulling others will also be dealt with more severely. Niall went on to say, “Doctors are amongst the most trusted professionals, and rightly so, and they deserve to be treated fairly.”

But not all professionals believe the changes are for the good. Clare Gerada, medical director of the NHS practitioner health program said the GMC had a “difficult job” but she was worried that tougher sanctions could in some cases, “Traumatize and put in additional fear for the vast majority of doctors who go in every day to do a good job”.

The consultation is running until November and the results will form the basis of guidance on the sanctions doctors will face for various offenses. The final results are due to be published next year. Mr Dickson added, “We want patients, doctors and other professionals to give us their views- this consultation is a chance to make sure the action we take is fair to doctors while never losing our focus on protecting the public.”

Peter Walsh, from the patient safety charity ‘Action against Medical Accidents’ said he welcomed the proposal and he told the BBC, “These measures are a step in the right direction but they are not yet wide enough or comprehensive enough to make it a genuinely patient-centered process.”

Accident Advice Helpline went on to say, “Patients safety and well-being is of paramount importance and whilst healthcare professionals undoubtedly work hard to ensure care is of the highest standard accidents do sadly happen. Regardless of your profession if you make a mistake, you apologize. And being in healthcare should be no different.”

You can call Accident Advice Helpline at any time on 0800 689 7221 to speak to an advisor if you’ve been involved in a non-fault accident; including road traffic and work place accidents. With over 13 years’ experience and endorsement by consumer champion Esther Rantzen you’ll be in safe hands.

This press release has been created in accordance to the information from ‘Doctors who harm patients face ‘tougher sanctions’ published on 21st August through The BBC. You can view the original press release through Accident Advice Helpline here.

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David Brown
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Accident Advice Helpline
since: 06/2010
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