This article reflects the conversations in the breakout group on this topic at the Recently Appointed Consultants symposium on Monday 22 February 2016.


Whistleblowing and raising concerns about staff members is something which can be difficult for all individuals to do. It can feel like a challenge when you are unclear about how to raise concerns and what the impact would be on yourself, your own career and those around you. Other barriers include identifying what should be reported to the GMC and what can be dealt with internally.

What is important to remember is that patient safety is paramount and delay in raising concerns can have a direct effect on patients. As a doctor, standards are in place and witnessing anything lower than required should not be tolerated. You should strive to be a positive leader in the workplace and this should be your motivation to contact the GMC. By acting upon any concerns you are ensuring that changes will happen for the better and patient care will be adhered to.

To ensure that the matter is resolved without it escalating unnecessarily, take small steps forward in resolving problems. A useful approach for you to use in certain circumstances is the duty of candour. This is the duty to be open and honest with the patient, saying sorry as soon as possible and explaining how the error happened. By resolving the issue straight away this helps to neutralise any problems early on and learn from the errors made.

The GMC provides a flowchart of who to contact first which is a useful tool for any medical professional. Support can also be given from supporting organisations such as the GMC. Information from the GMC including a link to the flow chart can be found in the links listed below.

The GMC itself has particular channels to enable the medical professional to raise their concerns about another. There is a helpline available for medical staff when they need to speak to the GMC directly and a list of who to contact in the particular situation as well as information provided on their website.

24 hour helpline: 0161 923 6399

Additional Links:
TURAS Learning on Whistleblowing:
NHS Scotland independent free and confidential national phone service: 0800 008 6112,

Breakout Group Leader: Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair, General Medical Council & Nuffield Professor of Child Health, University College London

Reviewed January 2018 & September 2021