Medical regulator revamps its guideline 'bible' with goal of eradicating bullying

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‘It’s important we all behave’: Medical regulator revamps its guideline ‘bible’ with goal of eradicating bullying and harassment on NHS wards

  • There are mounting concerns more doctors could retire or quit the NHS
  • General Medical Council — the doctors’ regulator — is updating its guidance
  • It is hoped this could help retain staff, and foster a more supportive atmosphere 

The doctors’ ‘bible’ is being updated to tackle bullying and sexual harassment on wards following a spate of scandals.

It is the first time General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines have changed in nearly a decade and comes as the NHS tries to improve staff retention.

The new framework will put emphasis on behaviour at work, such as ‘challenging conduct that could be considered harassment, discrimination or bullying’.

It follows a series of high profile sex scandals in the workplace.

Last week it an employment tribunal heard an NHS consultant at a London hospital had ordered a female trainee to strip off in his hotel room as punishment for getting a question wrong.

In another case, a doctor nicknamed ‘The Creep’ by his colleagues at a Staffordshire hospital was struck off after groping the breasts, thighs and bottoms of female medics working beside him.

Meanwhile, a married orthopaedic doctor in the capital was struck off in 2020 after he inappropriately touched two female students, telling one ‘the only way to shut a woman up is to kiss her.

About one in 10 jobs across the health service are currently vacant, figures suggest. 

The General Medical Council - which holds the register for doctors in the UK - is updating its guidance to place more emphasis on bullying and harassment in the workplace. (Pictured: Doctors at Derriford hospital in Plymouth)

The General Medical Council – which holds the register for doctors in the UK – is updating its guidance to place more emphasis on bullying and harassment in the workplace. (Pictured: Doctors at Derriford hospital in Plymouth)

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC — which holds the register of doctors able to practice in the UK —  told the The Times: ‘Medicine is a team sport.

‘It’s important that within teams we all behave and act in a way that’s professional and supports each other and enables everybody to give their best.’

He told the newspaper they were trying to ‘create the cultures, the behaviours, the values that mean these things are less likely to happen, or if they do happen, people feel empowered to speak up’.

The GMC is a public body responsible for maintaining the UK’s register of doctors, which allows them to practice in the profession.

Its guidance was last updated in 2013 to include suggestions on how to be a good doctor, which includes ensuring taking care of a patient is the first concern and taking prompt action if it appears a patient’s safety is being compromised. 

It comes amid concerns many doctors have stayed on to help during the pandemic, but could now leave as the worst of the Covid pressure appears to be over.

Surveys show many doctors are reporting burnout as well as feeling they are not being valued at work.

A loss of more doctors will leave the NHS further struggling to clear its waiting list, which has already reached a record high of 6.1million people. 

But there are fears this could double by 2025 as more patients that had missed out on vital care come forward.

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