Unprofessional behaviour targeted in pilot scheme

A PILOT programme has been launched to help doctors tackle unprofessional behaviour which threatens patient safety.

The move by the General Medical Council (GMC) comes in response to growing evidence that so-called “disruptive” behaviour from some healthcare professionals has a direct impact on the safe care of patients.

The regulator has developed a training programme designed to equip doctors with the skills to root out such behaviour.

Announcing the scheme, the GMC is quick to emphasise that the “vast majority of doctors deliver great care for their patients”. But it cites one study in which 14 per cent of doctors and nurses reported being aware of specific adverse events related to an episode of disruptive behaviour from colleagues.

The GMC has acknowledged the difficulties in challenging and managing such “pervasive behaviours” in the workplace, which it said has been a feature of several major health inquiries of recent years. A GMC survey of more than 1,000 doctors found that 40 per cent of respondents felt that other doctors undermine respect and prevent effective collaboration, and that nearly 60 per cent would not be confident that they’d be supported by clinical leaders and other managers if they raised a concern.

A pilot programme of evidence-based training, Professional behaviours and patient safety, will initially be delivered to doctors in at least 14 sites across the UK.

GMC Chair Dame Clare Marx said: “All of the evidence shows us that when clinical environments are poorly-led unprofessional behaviour goes unchallenged and patient safety suffers.

“The vast majority of doctors act with great compassion and professionalism. If we equip them to challenge poor behaviour in others we will enable them to deliver the care they want to provide.”

The programme has the backing of patient health safety leaders, including Sir Robert Francis, who chaired the public inquiry into deaths at Mid Staffordshire and is now Chair of Healthwatch England.

Sir Robert said: “Bullying and undermining stops everyone talking to each other. It makes people afraid so that they don’t share confidences and concerns, and that’s really dangerous for patients because unsafe practices are allowed to carry on.

“We all need to role model the behaviours we can be proud of, but there needs to be training in how to have difficult conversations with each other.”