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28-07-2011 | General practice | Article

GPs urged to report patient abuse


BMA – Safeguarding vulnerable adults – a toolkit for general practitioners

GPs can 'whistle-blow' if they suspect physical or mental abuse of vulnerable adult patients without fear of recrimination, according to new guidance.

The BMA's Safeguarding vulnerable adults toolkit highlights doctors' obligation to protect vulnerable adults and offers reassurance that legislation is in place to protect them if they wish to speak out.

The toolkit covers key areas explaining which adults are most likely to be vulnerable and what constitutes abuse and neglect.

It emphasises that GPs should first raise concerns in good faith with managers, employers or regulators. But once official channels have been exhausted, doctors can 'whistle-blow' by passing information to the media or MPs, provided they have good reason to believe they may be victimised or believe that a cover-up is likely.

Dr Tony Calland, Chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee commented: "The way doctors deal with these possible situations demonstrates how complex caring for vulnerable adults can be. There is no 'one size fits all' solution and each case needs to be judged individually. This toolkit will help guide and support doctors in their decision making.

"Our guidance also helps doctors identify which adults have the capacity to protect and promote their own interests, and which adults may need decisions made on their behalf."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price