Doctors who have harmed patients could face sanctions even if they can show they have subsequently improved their practice in serious cases, according to the GMC.
It is one of a number of far-reaching proposals aimed to protect patients and uphold public confidence in the medical profession. Under the proposals, doctors could face restrictions on their practice, suspension or even have their registration removed if, for example, it is shown that they knew or should have known they were causing harm to patients in serious cases. This could happen even if they had subsequently improved their practice.
“Doctors are among the most trusted professionals, and rightly so, and they deserve to be treated fairly. In the vast majority of cases one-off clinical errors do not merit any action by the GMC,” said Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council.
“But 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 to account for their actions.”
Doctors are expected to apologise to patients if they have caused them any harm, and in future failure to do so could affect the sanction they face.
In the consultation, which launches today, the GMC is also seeking views on imposing more serious action in cases where doctors fail to raise concerns about a colleague’s fitness to practise or take prompt action where a patient’s basic care needs are not being met. The consultation will run until 14 November 2014.