New GMC Guidelines

23rd December 2019

GMC produces new guidelines on how the NHS can boost morale and create better working environments for healthcare providers. Our Medical Negligence lawyer Nermeen Salahuddin looks at some of the changes being made…

The GMC states ‘there is abundant evidence that workplace stress in healthcare organisations affects quality of care for patients as well as doctors’ own health’. It is no secret that doctors feel an immense pressure to provide a high quality of care and are feeling overstretched due to their working conditions leading them to become increasingly stressed. As with any profession, healthcare staff not having adequate rest or appropriate sustenance, could potentially lead to mistakes being made that could have been avoided. This is emphasised by a recent A&E doctor, Dr Tarek Seda, falling a sleeping and failing 3 patients whilst working a 36-hour shift.

In Tam VC, Knowles SR, Cornish PL, Fine N, Marchesano R, Etchells EE, 22 studies involving 3,755 patients showed errors in patient medication prescriptions ‘occurred in up to 67% of cases’. Many have argued that there would be a massive decrease in these kinds of errors if medical professionals were well rested and attentive.


The annual State of Medical Education and Practice report found over two-thirds of doctors are working beyond their rostered hours on a weekly basis, leading to 60% of doctors experiencing a worsening work life balance over the last two years.


This has resulted in the GMC setting out ways to boost morale and create a better working environment for health care professional in a new report ‘Caring for Doctors Caring for Patients’.


The guidelines emphasise the importance of a UK-wide minimum standard for basic facilities in healthcare organisations. They plan to do this by ensuring that all healthcare employees provide staff with places and time to rest by implementing the BMA’s Fatigue and Facilities charter.
Another proposed change is to improve the NHS food environments, ensuring staff have access to nutritious meals to enable them to get them through a demanding shift.


Small but significant changes such as these could greatly improve the standard of care a patient is provided as they are being attended to by alert and refreshed healthcare providers. This would result in less errors in judgement which could be detrimental to a patient’s health. It is therefore hoped that these proposals are implemented and more importantly, adhered to, in order to run a modern and smooth healthcare service where patients are cared for by individuals who are also being looked after.

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