GMC whistleblowers helpline launched

A CONFIDENTIAL helpline for doctors to raise concerns about patient safety has been launched by the General Medical Council.

The new service allows doctors to contact the regulator directly for advice on a range of issues and is a means of raising serious patient safety concerns for those who feel unable to do so at a local level.

An online decision aid has also been launched on the GMC’s website to support whistleblowers.

The initiatives are part of the GMC’s commitment to support doctors who raise patient safety concerns and aim to create a more open and transparent working culture where all staff feel able to speak out. They follow the publication earlier this year of new GMC guidance Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety.

The helpline, on 0161 923 6399, will be manned by specially trained advisers who will act on information about individual doctors or organisations that can be investigated by the regulator. Callers may also be directed to other organisations such as the Care Quality Commission. The helpline will operate during office hours but doctors calling outwith these times can be called back.

The new guidance underlines doctors’ duty to put patients’ interests first and act to protect them at all times, adding that “this overrides personal and professional loyalties”.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: “Being a good doctor is more than simply being a good clinician. It requires a commitment to improve the quality of services and a willingness to speak up when things are not right – this is not always easy, but it is at the heart of medical professionalism.”

The GMC services follow the launch earlier this year of a free government-funded whistleblowing helpline (08000 724 725) and of a national charter Speaking Up, to protect NHS whistleblowers.

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