• Doctors’ regulator selecting trusts to be part of new “local first” conduct investigations pilot
  • GMC wants to make FtP decisions based on local evidence gathered
  • Aiming to improve consistency of local investigations

The General Medical Council is planning to work more closely with NHS trusts and other organisations on how they investigate staff conduct locally.

In a letter sent earlier this month to NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey set out plans to develop a pilot project called “local first”.

The project aims to enable the GMC to make fitness to practise decisions based on evidence gathered in local investigations to “streamline and speed up the process”.

The regulator said it is currently choosing the pilot sites and will develop the scheme in early 2020.

Mr Massey said the scheme would involve the GMC “quality assuring pilot trusts’ local processes based on our principles for a good investigation”, and the pilot should improve the “consistency of approach in local investigations”.

Mr Massey was responding to a letter sent by Ms Issar to all healthcare professional regulatory bodies earlier this month, which called for “initial thoughts” on a common framework for handling concerns about NHS staff.

She said there would be “extensive engagement” on this, adding there was “an appetite” for the development of common framework from human resources directors.

The recommendation for a common framework was set out by an advisory group, which was developed by the national regulators in response to the death of nurse Amin Abdullah in February 2016.

A senior nurse at Charing Cross Hospital, Mr Abdullah was suspended from Imperial College Healthcare Trust in September 2015 and dismissed in December. He went on to take his own life in February 2016.

Ms Issar also said all regulators and professional bodies should consider offering guidance on a “range of specific issues that are relevant to management responsibilities exercised by registrants”.

Mr Massey said the GMC would welcome a new common framework and said a reformed approach could support “greater openness and opportunities for learning for all healthcare professionals”.

“The NHS People Plan provides a good opportunity to better align regulatory responses on a number of issues which arise frequently,” Mr Massey said. “These include how we and system regulators assess and support leadership and governance, induction, professional behaviours and continuing professional development.”

Mr Massey added: “Working with local clinical governance systems to ensure consistent local investigations that are fair, robust and transparent, we can cut needless duplication and reduce the stress of our investigations on everyone involved.”