July 6, 2022

Doctors should report wayward colleagues, say British MPs

Bishops, editors and securities regulators may not be the only ones to lose jobs for failing to detect scoundrels in their ranks. Now a committee of the House of Commons in the UK has proposed that doctors be deregistered if they fail to report erring colleagues.

Bishops, editors and securities regulators may
not be the only ones to lose jobs for failing to detect scoundrels in their ranks.
Now a committee of the House of Commons in the UK has proposed that doctors be deregistered
if they fail to report erring colleagues.

Senior doctors and clinical team leaders in
hospitals would be most accountable, but there would be “questions asked of everybody,”
said Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the health committee.

“Every practising doctor and nurse knows that
in addition to their obligation to care for their patients, they have an obligation
as professionals to report to their professional body any concerns they have about
the quality of care being delivered by their colleagues as a result of what they
know or should have known,” said Mr Dorrell. “We look to the [General Medical Council]
to ensure that failure to act is regarded as a serious breach of professional obligation.”

One glaring example of negligence is the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where scores of doctors
must have known about problems at the hospital. But almost no one lodged official
complaints.

Paul Flynn, of the British Medical Association,
told the BMJ: “It would be contrary to natural justice to be held to account for
something you genuinely didn’t know about, but perhaps those who stick their heads
in the sand and deliberately don’t look for problems should be held to account for
it.”

However, Mr Dorrell stressed that doctors must
be held responsible. “In the end, the quality assurance method in a care system
is not the regulator in London, it’s your professional colleagues around you that
themselves know what good, professional care looks like and know that it’s their
registration at risk if they tolerate second rate care going on around them. This
wider responsibility for the overall quality of care delivered to patients is a
part of what it means to be a professional.” ~ BMJ, July 26

Michael Cook
malfeasance
reporting
UK