How the GOC can support you to Speak Up

If there’s one good thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that a lot of us have learnt what’s really important to us.  We know that our registrants rightly prioritise protection of patients and the public, and have been doing a great job in very difficult circumstances, providing valuable eye care whilst adapting to a ‘new normal’. We also know, however, that it’s not always clear how they should act when they think safety isn’t being prioritised as it should be, and acting in such situations is a crucial part of their professional duty towards patients and the public. We’ve produced draft guidance on ‘Speaking Up’ which is designed to cover these situations, but we need your input to make sure it’ll be as helpful as it can be.

When should I do speak up?

If, in the course of your work, you witness something you think endangers your patients or the public, you must speak up about it.

Why would I speak up against my employer?

Love your job or hate it, speaking up about a problem at work can be a daunting or even frightening prospect. You might fear retaliation and may even fear for your career. Even when that isn’t the case, we can feel a sense of loyalty towards the people we’ve worked with for years or even decades. Sometimes though, things are so serious that you can’t keep quiet. Patient safety issues fall into that category, and you are in a unique position as a healthcare professional to make your concerns known and solve those issues to the benefit of all. Our draft guidance takes into account how difficult it can be to take that step and speak out and provides links to useful sources of advice and support.

So how should I speak up?

Once you’ve decided something needs to be done, how should you go about it? The first thing is to raise the problem with someone who can fix it, which might be management at your workplace. If this doesn’t work, or if your concerns are very serious, you can speak up to a prescribed person. This is an organisation that the law says can deal with certain issues and it may be that the GOC will be the most appropriate prescribed person for our registrants to speak up to.

I’ve seen people ‘speaking up’ to the GOC on social media – can I do that?

Our primary responsibility – like yours - is to protect patients and the public, and it’s a responsibility we take very seriously. To be able to do this effectively, we need to have evidence to back up concerns raised and for those ‘speaking up’ to provide us with the information we need to investigate thoroughly. This is not really possible via social media and we’d encourage registrants to contact us directly if they’re not sure how they need to speak up to us.

Where can I comment on the draft guidance?

We’ve drafted some guidance but it’s only useful if it works for the people who’ll read it: our registrants. Please have a look over it and complete our consultation to let us know how we can improve it. There’s only a few days left to do so (consultation closes on 10 March), so be quick!