It is welcome news that the GMC has announced it will provide Human Factors training to all staff involved in fitness-to-practise decisions and investigations. Following the high-profile Bawa-Garba case, the GMC has been criticised for failing to consider wider systems failings when investigating doctor's errors.
Human Factors training is a widely used tool for safety in the aviation industry, yet it has taken some time for this to be recognised in healthcare.
The GMC will work in collaboration with the University of Oxford's Patient Safety Academy, a department funded by Health Education England, for both training and continuing expert advice. Project leader, Professor Peter McCulloch, a professor of surgical science and practice, said: "Our aim in this work is to ensure that context and systems issues are always fully taken into account when evaluating a doctor’s performance, allowing doctors to have confidence in the fairness of GMC procedures".
GMC Chief Executive and Registrar, Charlie Massey, said: "This collaboration will make sure that Human Factors are hardwired into our investigations so that the role systems and workplaces play in events is fully and evenly evaluated in assessing context following serious failings".
This news comes at a time when a BMA survey of 8,000 doctors found over half fear they will be blamed for making a medical error made because of systemic pressures in the NHS. Following the Bawa-Garba case, a GMC review into gross negligence manslaughter charges against doctors has looked at why there are fewer cases involving healthcare organisations compared with individuals.
"Our aim in this work is to ensure that context and systems issues are always fully taken into account when evaluating a doctor’s performance, allowing doctors to have confidence in the fairness of GMC procedures".