Protection in Practice

These stories are based on real cases of us helping members like you to navigate difficult situations.

You know how important it is to have expert advice and support should claims of clinical negligence arise. But these stories demonstrate how membership can protect you beyond those clinical negligence claims to ensure your career and professional standing are protected too.

If you are concerned about any issues similar to the ones featured in these films please contact our medicolegal advice line, where our expert team are ready and happy to help.

Dr. Inder Das's story

Audited after a patient complaint

This GP decided against prescribing antibiotics to a patient, who then complained to NHS England. The resulting audit put her under pressure, but her Medical Protection team guided her through the potentially troubling experience.

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Disputes with patients

There are many reasons why patients make a complaint. When a patient has very strong views on what their condition is and the treatment they want and expect, it can become very adversarial and contentious if as a doctor you don’t agree.

Relationships between doctors and their patients rely strongly on good communication. To help with these difficult scenarios, Medical Protection runs free workshops and online courses to help members deal with challenging interactions with patients.

When a complaint is referred

It’s not uncommon for a patient to go directly to NHS England with a complaint rather than contacting their practice first, and they have the right to do this.

NHS England will obtain the consent of the complainant to contact the practice and ask you to undertake a local investigation and draft up a reply to the complaint, addressed to the complainant.

If you receive a letter from NHS England about a patient complaint it’s important to talk to our experts for advice. We’re here to support you and we can help you understand the process.

Remember, we’re not just here to help with complaints that are referred beyond a local level. If you are uncertain about the best way to proceed with any type of complaint you can contact us for advice.

Responding to a complaint

Writing a good response can make all the difference in successfully addressing a patient’s concerns and preventing a complaint from escalating.

We are often called on to assist members when a complaint has been referred for review by the ombudsman. We have found that many of these cases could have been resolved at local level if more care had been taken in investigating the complaint and in drafting the letter of response.

Your response needs to be thorough and detailed and should be written as if addressing the patient directly. Our experts can help you cover all the relevant points, such as summarising the issues raised, responding to each one and explaining any action that has been taken as a result of the investigation.

The Performance Advisory Group

The NHS England Performance Advisory Group (PAG) ensures all concerns and complaints related to a named physician are investigated where appropriate. They decide if any action is required and monitor the investigation, ensuring a fair and non-discriminatory approach to the management of concerns.

The PAG may request that an audit is carried out to compare anonymised patient information at your practice against the national guidelines to make sure your records are at the standard they should be and that patients are receiving appropriate treatment and care.

Your Medical Protection adviser can help you understand this process and feel prepared for an audit. They can advise on what the audit may highlight, so you can anticipate and act on any potential concerns.

Demonstrating insight

Being able to demonstrate insight can be helpful in resolving a complaint. It shows you have reflected on your practice and taken action as a result of any investigation.

Our experts can help you determine what, if any, measures you can take to help you resolve a complaint or concern.

We offer expert medicolegal advice and a range of resources to support you with gaining and demonstrating insight. Members can access free workshops and educational materials to gain awareness and demonstrate insight by putting new strategies in place.

Prevention is ultimately a lot less stressful than dealing with a problem after it has occurred. Our courses form an important part of your CPD and can help you avoid problems occurring or escalating in the future.

Protection in practice

GPs can be held to account for their actions in many situations other than being sued, NHS performance investigations being one of them. It is therefore vital that you have access to expert help to anticipate professional challenges and limit the potential damage to your career and reputation.

While the new state-backed indemnity schemes for GPs in England and Wales will provide support with clinical negligence claims in many (although not all) cases, they won’t provide this type of support or advice. In order to safeguard your career, you need to have professional protection alongside state indemnity. That’s where we come in.

We’re at the end of the phone whenever you need us and can help with a wide range of situations where you face professional scrutiny. This includes complaints, disciplinary proceedings, coroner’s inquests, police matters and GMC investigations. In addition to this, our medicolegal advice line provides assistance on a wide range of medicolegal and ethical matters that clinicians face on a daily basis.

Our expertise means we can put your welfare first. We are best placed to provide emotional support, anticipate challenges, help you explain your actions and demonstrate insight, all of which can all lead to better outcomes.

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