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Two in three doctors believe there is still a blame and shame culture in the NHS, MPS survey reveals

Post date: 27/04/2015 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

A Medical Protection Society (MPS) survey of more than 500 UK members, including GPs, consultants and non-consultant hospital doctors, revealed that two in three doctors (68%) believe there is a blame and shame culture in the NHS, and that it will be difficult to overcome this.1 This compares with 66% of respondents to the same survey conducted in 2011, indicating that there has not been a positive culture change in four years.2

With the statutory duty of candour now in effect in England and Wales, MPS is calling on the next government to address this long-standing problem.3 MPS strongly believes that blunt legislative tools – such as the statutory duty of candour – are not the most effective way of achieving behavioural change. Only 16% of respondents thought legislation could be used to improve openness in healthcare.

Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at the Medical Protection Society said: "We would like to see the next government focus on empowering and supporting healthcare professionals to do what they entered healthcare to do – care for patients. Promoting an open learning culture, professionalism and accountability, and eradicating fear amongst those working in healthcare should be the priority.”

The majority of respondents (72%) felt that education and training would encourage openness in the profession, 65% pointed to the need for better top-down support from management, and mentoring was also considered an important factor for 50% of respondents.

Dr Hendry continued: "Legislating to govern the behaviours of healthcare professionals risks creating a ‘tick-box’ mentality. Mandating actions and threatening sanctions could undermine the intensely sensitive, personalised and patient-centred conversations that should happen with patients and their families when something has gone wrong.

“For a cultural shift to be effective and far-reaching, the next government and healthcare managers must encourage organisations to develop training and policies to support open communication and early notification of adverse events and near misses.”

MPS is calling for the culture in the NHS to be addressed as part of its ‘Priorities for the next government 2015 – 2020’.

More information 

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Shannon Darling, Press Officer at MPS on +44 (0) 207 399 1319 or shannon.darling@medicalprotection.org

Notes to editors
  1. MPS conducted a survey of MPS members in April 2015 titled ‘Openness, Risk and Regulation’. It received 536 responses from UK GPs, consultants and non-consultant hospital doctors.
  2. MPS conducted a survey of MPS members in March 2011 titled ‘Openness, Risk and Regulation’. It received 541 responses from UK GPs, consultants and non-consultant hospital doctors.
  3. The statutory duty of candour came into effect in England and Wales on April 1, 2015. Consultations on similar statutory duties are ongoing in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  4. Please find attached MPS’s Priorities for the next government – 2015-2020'.
Read a PDF of this press release

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