GMC’s clinical fellow Dr Muj Husain hosted our first Twitter chat on 21 June 2013 where we talked about raising concerns. Here he summarises our discussion with doctors, students and medical organisations.
As a doctor in training spending a year at the GMC, I’ve given much thought to the duties of doctors to raise concerns. This is not just about a duty to speak up but it is about the responsibility of doctors and health professionals to create a culture in which we can talk openly and honestly about our mistakes in a positive way. When I was asked to host the GMC Twitter chat on raising concerns, I thought it was a great opportunity to highlight this topic and to raise awareness of the GMC’s tools to help doctors speak out. The chat was an experiment, both for me and the GMC, and I was pleased that so many useful contributions and important points had been made.
Several people, rightly, highlighted the barriers that doctors face in raising concerns. We were able to point these people to the GMC’s flow chart which takes doctors through the process step-by-step. Speaking up is not easy but I hope that simple tools like this and the supporting case studies on the GMC website will make a difference. We also mentioned the GMC’s confidential helpline – a source of additional guidance for doctors who need support or advice.
A second key theme of the chat was the role of doctors in training and students. It was clear that people felt senior doctors were not the only effective leaders – everyone involved in patient care can and should contribute to a culture of openness. The Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management were particularly keen to stress that fostering leadership at a junior level will help make things better – and I agree!
A strong theme was present throughout the chat – we are all responsible for improving patient care, from regulators to doctors to students, we all have a role to play. My favourite tweet was from a doctor quoting Australia’s chief of army, which highlights why this is so important: ’The standard you walk past is the standard you accept’.