Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen’s keynote speech at GMC Symposium said doctors need more support if they are to perform well. She said the GMC were:
“acutely aware that the system is currently under strain. The pressure is only going to increase as we move into winter. In some ways it is a difficult time to be making a call for cultural change. But in reality, these pressures make this more important. Doctors under strain need more support if they are to perform well. There is no expectation of quick cultural fixes, but there is an urgent need to acknowledge across the board that good culture provides the foundation for good, safe patient care.”
“This year, we had to report another jump in the number of doctors at high risk of burnout, and, worryingly, in the number of doctors who say they regularly find it hard to provide sufficient care to patients.
” We have known for some time how important it is to create the right working culture for doctors. There is an abundance of evidence directly linking doctors’ wellbeing to patient care, and in our 2018 report, ‘Caring for doctors, caring for patients’ we highlighted this and called for compassionate workplaces and compassionate leadership. “
Efforts to eliminate direct discrimination
In her speech, she also addressed the work being done by the GMC to “eliminate direct discrimination, bullying and harassment”, saying:
“Efforts to eliminate direct discrimination, bullying and harassment are obviously one of the fundamentals of running a good workplace. But inclusivity goes further. At its core is the need to create an environment where everybody feels a sense of belonging, feels comfortable and able to participate fully. In an inclusive environment all doctors feel supported, valued, and respected. Nobody should feel they are an outsider.
“As our workforce continues to diversify inclusion becomes more and more important. And it’s critical that we stretch our thinking and recognise that diversity comes in many forms, including professional diversity.
“We need to think about different groups of doctors. Numbers of locally employed doctors are climbing rapidly, yet they tell us they feel unsupported, and unable to access development opportunities. As with SAS doctors, outdated notions about the proper career path a doctor should take can be responsible for unhelpful, non-inclusive behaviours. A lot of the growth in numbers is driven by international medical graduates so there are intersecting issues here which make this more difficult.
“And of course, the current environment for medical associate professionals is clearly very challenging. Multi-disciplinary respect and courtesy is fundamental within our professional standards but there are going to be situations and times when that is challenging to deliver. Leaders have a significant responsibility to establish a culture where this is expected, even in the face of a tough external environment, and where all doctors hold each other to high standards on inclusivity.”
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