One piece of correspondence that no doctor wishes to receive is a letter from the GMC relating to a complaint that has been made against them.
Sadly, complaints against doctors are incredibly common. In the period between 2012 and 2016, one in ten doctors had complaints filed about them with the GMC. The vast majority of these complaints – indeed more than 99% of them – were dismissed with no action taken against the doctor. As comforting as it is to know that the GMC assesses complaints fairly and will take action only when it is known that the doctor acted negligently, it is still stressful for the doctor to have to face such complaints.
Fitness to practice defence solicitors will work with doctors to provide medico-legal advice, and will help to ensure that the doctor’s best interest is protected at all times. They will help doctors to navigate the process of defending a complaint, and will also advise them on the other things that they need to do.
You will need to inform your employer, as well as NHS England, about the complaint, within seven days. In addition, you should tell your medical director. The GMC will ask that you complete a work details form, and send it back to them within seven days.
Sometimes, patients will raise complaints against doctors simply because they are frustrated or angry. Some complaints may be malicious. Some complaints do have some basis, however. The GMC cares primarily about whether a doctor is fit to practice, and whether the doctor could pose a risk to patients. Those who show insight, and who are willing to apologise and remediate in areas where they had done something wrong, are thought of lower risk than those who are unwilling to admit any fault.
Even if what you did when dealing with the patient was clinically correct, take some time to discuss it with a senior colleague, and look for learning points so that you can do better in the future. The GMC will be interested in any discussions that you have had with senior colleagues, and will want to know about courses, learning plans, and anything else that you are willing to do in order to improve your relationships with your patients.
If you are faced with an accusation, then you should definitely speak to a medical complaint legal specialist before engaging with the GMC. Defending yourself would be an unwise decision, as a lawyer will be able to guide you towards the best possible outcome for your career.