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Nurse views may influence doctors' fitness to practise


Nurses’ feedback will play an important part in deciding whether doctors are fit to continue practising, under plans being developed for revalidation.

The importance of nurses’ input is being stressed as the final plans for doctors’ revalidation, or regular competency assessments, are being consulted on by the General Medical Council.

The plans would see nurses providing written replies to questions about doctors’ performance, covering areas such as clinical skills, prescribing, time management and communication abilities.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson told Nursing Times: “Medicine is not practised in isolation. We anticipate that, during the revalidation cycle, doctors will seek feedback on their practice from a range of colleagues, nursing staff included.”

“While patient feedback will be important, it may be that these colleagues provide the sort of insightful comments that can really help professionals to improve their clinical, communication and team-working skills and these improvements will benefit both the individual doctor and patients.”

Research into staff and patient questionnaires is being carried out by the Peninsula Medical School at Exeter University, with the final findings expected in early 2011.

It involves pilots being carried at around 10 sites across England and Wales. Doctors taking part have selected 20 colleagues each to provide feedback.

Professor of general practice and primary care John Campbell said: “The nurse’s input is very important. They often have a lot of insight into how their doctors are operating and can influence that behaviour.”

Nurses tended to provide a very different perspective from patients, although most doctors did “very well” in both assessments, he said.

He called for nurses to respond to the GMC’s consultation, which launched last week, saying: “It would be interesting to see what nurses feel about the opportunity to comment on doctors’ performance.

“There’s a real chance for them to influence revalidation through feedback,” he added.

Should nurses’ opinions feed into doctors’ revalidation assessments? Please vote in the poll to the right of this article.


Should nurses' opinions feed into doctors' revalidation assessments?

View poll results

Readers' comments (5)

  • I voted no. The day we go down the path of doctors having to justify themselves to nursing staff with regard to assessment, is the day we may as well tell the air hostess to fly the plane! and I am a nurse!!!

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  • Martin Gray

    If I had seen this article earlier I would have altered my opinion and not made the comments I have on other threads. The reason being that, for nurses to be able to provide this sort of feedback, nurses need to have a higher level of education and more knowledge of clinical skill and pharmacology and not just bedside manner and social skills assessment.

    That really indicatates that degree level is necessary, but not necessarily essential, however the nurses giving feedback on their medical colleagues will have to have the experience as well as the academic qualifications to be able to do so. It would be rather insulting and demeaning to a doctor if junior nurses were allowed to take on this sort of task. It would have to be limited to Band 6 or above AND with the experience within practical nursing not just academic qualifications. And any such feedback would also have to be constructive and without predjudice.

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  • Both of the submitted comments above demonstrate an archaic and very limited understanding of the scope of nurse education and experience, as that which exists today. I think that we would have a much higher mortality rate if 'Bedside manner and social skills assessment' were the only requirements for nurse education/experience.
    Nurses and doctors should be viewed as equal members of the healthcare team. In making a considered judgement about a doctor's performance, nurses of different levels of experience can contribute different insights. I have worked with mature junior nurses who have a greater appreciation of what constitutes quality practice than those nurses who are considered more 'experienced'.
    There already is a well developed and embedded system by which nurses feedback on doctors' performance. Throughout my career I have been asked to appraise my medical colleagues' performance, ranging from their knowledge to their practical or communication skills. This is common practice throughout the healthcare system and by formalising the process, I would hope a set of standards for appraisal, will mean a fairer and more consistent approach to doctors' revalidation assessments.

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  • "Nurses and doctors should be viewed as equal members of the healthcare team."

    Why and by whom?

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  • Totally think Nursing staff should, and regularly do, give feedback to doctors on their performance.

    Nurses should take an interest in Doctors and their performance and particularly their fitness to practice - its not rocket science to know when a doctor or nurse is underperforming. Any doctor who fails to protect a patient because they are unfit for their role should have questions raised about them and they should have the interpersonal skills to deal with a situation where they are questioned by a nurse or junior colleague. Same goes for any junior doctor questioning a senior colleague/nurse.

    I'd like to think that this is a rare occurrence and most inappropriate characters are filtered out at a early stage. You cannot improve your methods of working unless you receive feedback.

    I also do have a higher level of education than most junior doctors.

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