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Medical Protection calls for accountability, wellbeing and workforce to be key focus for next UK Government

Post date: 13/05/2024 | Time to read article: 3 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 13/05/2024

Medical Protection is calling on the next UK Government to prioritise critical issues currently impacting healthcare professionals and patients, including improvements to the ways in which doctors are held to account, the provision of wellbeing services and support for the workforce.

The recommendations are outlined in Medical Protection’s Priorities for the Next Government report, which sets outs the reforms that need to be undertaken after the upcoming General Election.

Key among the recommendations is for the next government to substantially improve accountability within the healthcare profession by ensuring the ways in which doctors are held to account are fair, sensitive and proportionate.

This includes acting on a long overdue commitment to remove the General Medical Council’s (GMC) right of appeal over decisions made by fitness to practise panels. Such a move was a central recommendation of the Williams Review and despite the government agreeing to the reform in 2018, the legislative amendments have yet to be introduced.

Another priority is for substantial improvements to be made to NHS disciplinary action against healthcare professionals by the next government engaging with NHS England to improve the application of standards, scrutiny of process and adherence to timelines for all disciplinaries.

Medical Protection is also calling for action to tackle the rising cost of clinical negligence, which on current trends are set to double in the next decade to £4.6 billion. Action to end to the criminalisation of medical error is also required to ensure gross negligence manslaughter charges are only brought against doctors if an act is proved to be intentional, reckless or grossly careless.

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, Medical Protection’s President, said:

“Doctors expect to be accountable for the healthcare they provide. They also have a right to expect that when they are held to account it is done in a way that is fair, proportionate, efficient and sensitively handled. Sadly, we see first-hand when supporting doctors through various processes that this is not always the case.

“Few areas of regulation in the UK are more overdue reform than healthcare professional regulation. Thousands of doctors go through stressful and slow GMC processes each year, with the regulator working within the confines of legislation that is over 40 years old.”

Meanwhile, to better support the wellbeing of healthcare professionals, Medical Protection is calling for the next government to work with NHS England to ensure both local access to mental health support for all NHS staff as well as continued access to NHS Practitioner Health.

This follows a 2023 Medical Protection survey, which found nearly half (46%) of UK healthcare professionals believed their mental wellbeing was worse than compared to during the pandemic.

And to address the ongoing workforce challenges, Medical Protection is encouraging the next government to continue plans to create 15,000 new medical school places whilst also creating a dedicated NHS staff retention strategy.

Joint working with NHS England is needed to ensure more support for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from the moment they arrive in the UK as well as action to ensure Specialist, Associate Specialist and Specialty doctors (SAS) and locally employed doctors have access to training opportunities and career development.

Professor Dacre added: “At Medical Protection, we see every day the impact that disciplinary action, and GMC investigations have on members, and how these could be handled better. We support members during their darkest times and understand the support they need for their mental wellbeing. We also see the impact that working in under resourced or unsupportive environments can have on healthcare professionals and their patients.

“As we approach the General Election, the priorities we have set out tackle the serious challenges our healthcare professionals face through the implementation of practical policy commitments that would deliver enormous benefits for healthcare professionals and their patients.”


Notes to editors

For further information contact [email protected]

The Medical Protection survey was completed by 861 doctors in the UK. The survey was in the field from 20 March - 17 April 2023.

Click here to view Medical Protection’s Priorities for the Next Government report.

About MPS

The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”) is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

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