Complaints & Investigations

You have received a complaint or been told you are facing an investigation. This may be an internal investigation by the organisation in which you work or you may have been notified by your regulatory body (GMC/GDC). For many doctors, the prospect of facing a complaint or professional dispute causes them significant stress. This can manifest itself in how they perform in clinical practise and/or in their personal life and may lead to physical and psychological symptoms.

This set of guides and resources has been developed in collaboration with a group of NHS Practitioner Health patients, all who have been through an incident or complaint. For some this has led to suspension or even erasure, but their goal here is to share their experience and expertise and demonstrate that there is a pathway through and with the right help and guidance you will stay on track.This guide was written with doctors and dentists in mind but many of the principles described will apply across the range of healthcare workforce.

Firstly, like dealing with any medical emergency, you need to stay calm, keep a clear head, and develop a management plan. See  (Stage 1: Complaint or Incident) on first steps for more information.

Consider taking a few days of leave, to reflect on what you need to do.

Your first goal is to disclose to someone that you trust, which is not easy to do and should not be underestimated. However, the benefit of having someone you can talk to about what is going on should not be underestimated. See (Stage 2: Disclosure) on who needs to know for more information.

Once you have overcome this main hurdle, it is time for some admin  (Stage 3: Gathering information). See our stages on next steps to help you through the process of preparing for and attending hearings and panels  (Stage 4: Investigations and Hearings). Our section on when the outcome is known  (Stage 5: Decisions made – what nextcan help you in considering what impact the investigation may have on your professional career and how you may need to plan or do things differently. Most doctors or dentists will need to consider how they demonstrate insight and reflection and that their clinical skills remain up to date during an investigation process.

See  (Stage 7: Remediation) will provide more information, including a template for you to use. In some cases, a clinician may receive a temporary suspension or restriction on their practice, or rarely, even face erasure. See  (Stage 6: Options when not working) helps you consider how you might deal with this scenario. Our section  (Stage:8 Return to work after an absence) is aimed at helping you prepare for being back in the workplace, to consider how you might handle questions and protect yourself from facing a similar incident.

Finally our resources section provide a range of information and links you may find useful.

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