Observations Medicine and the Media

Secret filming shows fundamental problems in general practice

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6392 (Published 04 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6392
  1. Aneez Esmail, professor of primary care, University of Manchester

Random inspections would improve patient safety, says Aneez Esmail, who advised a television programme that covertly found that “failing doctors routinely slip through the system”

It was a comment that I made in an interview for BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme that caught the attention of producers at Channel 4’s Dispatches. I had been speaking about the problems of understanding patient safety in general practice and how little we knew about issues related to wrong diagnosis and misdiagnosis. I also raised the question of who would monitor general practitioners in the brave new world of commissioning. Would I, they asked, be willing to take part in a documentary that would open the lid on some of these issues?

Improving patient safety in primary care is one of my research interests. I have investigated the main problem areas and how we can monitor and improve things. As the medical adviser to Dame Janet Smith on the …

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