Doctors must work in partnership with patients, says GMCBMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7567.513-a (Published 07 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:513
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It is encouraging to know that the General Medical Council has
identified the need for involving patients in delivering healthcare
services and the revised edition of Good Medical Practice promises to
highlight the patients and public expectations of the health service.
However, there appears to be an equal need to involve patients and public
in educating and training health professionals. This group has first-hand
experience of how the healthcare system works rather than how it is
thought to be working and brings a different perspective that can instil a
new dimension to delivering healthcare services and training.
Patient and public involvement reflects a shift in the culture of
health services and effective partnerships between patients and
professionals will need to involve changes in attitudes on both sides.
However, there may be a hidden danger in this evolution of policy and
practice. Regulatory bodies such as the GMC demanding agencies to
demonstrate service user involvement could result in user activities
becoming merely formal procedures that are ticked off, rather than
positively and creatively embedded within a powerful organization and
practice. Thus, evidence of perverse outcomes and processes requires a
culture shift in professionals and services. These practices are at the
cutting edge of user/carer involvement in change management and present
the greatest potential challenges and rewards.
Although the review process conducted by the GMC appears to have been
successful in consulting some disadvantaged groups such as homeless
people, black and minority ethnic groups and people with disabilities
there is still need for consulting another underrepresented group
consisting of children and young people. Children and young peoples’
involvement is crucial and their voices are often unheard as parents and
carers act as their mouth pieces.
The pathway to fully involving patients and public in healthcare is likely
to be long and challenging but interesting, with much learning and
‘unlearning’ to be undertaken. However, it is only by developing the
capacity to give patients and public the power to influence health
services that their involvement will be moved from a position of rhetoric
to one that is an effective and workable reality.
Competing interests: No competing interests