Responding to concerns: a guide for doctors who manage staff

This guidance is to help managers of other healthcare professionals better manage concerns raised to them.

Location: UK
Audience: Consultants SAS doctors GPs
Updated: Wednesday 1 May 2024
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Your professional duties

As a staff manager or leader, you must create a culture in which all staff can raise concerns openly and safely (paragraph 24 of Good medical practice and part 2 of GMC raising and acting on concerns guidance).

This includes making sure:

  • the right systems are in place for raising concerns
  • you are familiar with the relevant law and your organisation's policy – this may be called speaking up, raising concerns or whistleblowing (see below for model policies from across the UK)
  • staff are encouraged to raise concerns and feel protected when they do
  • everyone understands the importance of being open and honest when things go wrong.


Responding to concerns

It is important that you understand and follow your organisation’s raising concerns policy when concerns are raised. The policy should set out the difference between:

  • a personal grievance – which HR can advise on; and
  • a concern that is in the public interest. This could be about: unsafe working practices; a lack of care by other professionals; a patients’ care or dignity being compromised; or fraud.

When discussing a concern with staff, you will need to identify the type of concern being raised and the policy that applies.

When staff raise a concern you should always:

  1. thank them
  2. treat their concern seriously and listen carefully
  3. respect confidentiality as far as reasonably possible
  4. manage their expectations - if it is clear that the concern does not fall within the raising concerns policy, you need to explain this
  5. explain what advice and support is available to them
  6. assess whether immediate action is necessary to address any risk to patient safety.

You may need to conduct an investigation. If possible, you should tell the staff member raising the concern about any outcomes or actions. You will need to consider whether any information is confidential and whether it can be shared or not.

If the individual is unhappy with the way their concern has been handled, you should tell them how to escalate their concern following your employer’s raising concerns policy.

It is important to keep notes of conversations and actions taken throughout the process.


If you are unsure how to act on a concern

If you are unsure about what to do you can take advice from:

  • a senior member of staff
  • your responsible officer
  • the BMA - we provide an employer advice service for GP partners, practice managers and medical managers
  • the relevant regulatory authorities
  • other bodies who can help (see below).