Recommendation 233

Public understanding of the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council

Accepted
While both the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have highly informative internet sites, both need to ensure that patients and other service users are made aware at the point of service provision of their existence, their role and their contact details.

Both the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have made clear their commitment to ensure that patients and the public have a clear understanding of the role of both organisations.

The General Medical Council is piloting meetings with patients and relatives who have made a complaint about a doctor.  During the pilot, they are offering to meet individual complainants at the beginning and end of the case.  The aim is to make sure that the complainant fully understands the nature and purpose of the General Medical Council’s procedures and that the General Medical Council fully understands the nature of the complainant’s concerns. The meeting when the case has concluded gives the General Medical Council an opportunity to explain the outcome.

Update

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is making progress with its website redevelopment project and has recently completed a phase of user testing to inform the architecture of the site. The revised website is due to be launched by mid-2015. Its Patient and Public Engagement Forum continues to meet quarterly and advises the Nursing and Midwifery Council on raising public awareness of its role and how to ensure its services are accessible to all potential users.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has produced two information leaflets for the public on raising concerns about nurses and midwives and understanding your rights when being cared for by students. These leaflets have been distributed widely through over 1,000 patient representative groups, patient advocacy services, patient advice and liaison.

The General Medical Council is committed to ensuring patients and the public have a clear understanding of the role of the organisation. It has commissioned a report into the confidence and awareness of the General Medical Council functions and the effect of current communication channels, including its website, which will be published by early 2015.

In 2012 the General Medical Council piloted a Patient Information Service with the aim of improving communications with members of the public who raise concerns about a doctor. The General Medical Council held a total of 298 meetings with patients, both at the beginning and end of our Fitness to Practise processes. An independent evaluation of the pilot found that meetings had mostly provided patients with a better understanding of the General Medical Council’s processes. They felt listened to and felt their complaint was being taken seriously. Meetings were also helpful in reducing their feelings of isolation. The evaluation report was published on our website in September 2014 and in January 2015 the pilot was rolled out to the General Medical Council’s offices across the UK, in Manchester and London, as well as Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.