New reflective practice guidance published

RCPCH President Professor Russell Viner reiterates the importance of reflective practice as "crucial for doctors".

New guidance to help doctors and medical students with reflective practice has been jointly published today by the General Medical Council, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans, and the Medical Schools Council.

Responding to the publication of “The Reflective Practitioner” guidance, Professor Russell Viner, President of the RCPCH said:

"Reflective practice is crucial for doctors. It helps to ensure that when things go wrong; errors can be learned from and measures put in place to prevent a similar incident from happening again. Clear guidance on reflective practice is needed to encourage doctors to use their notes for honest, open reflection without fear of negative repercussion.

"We welcome the clarity and support that this document brings to many areas of reflective practice. However, we are concerned that “The Reflective Practitioner” guidance from the GMC and others does not address some key concerns that we have previously expressed about the use of institution-held reflective practice notes in disciplinary proceedings. We note that the guidance states that the GMC does not ask a doctor to provide their reflective notes in order to pursue a fitness to practice case. However, we have written to the GMC for clarity about whether Royal Colleges may be asked to provide reflections in such cases, as this is potentially a significant loophole.

"In the meantime, we wish to reiterate the importance of reflective practice and encourage members to refer to our guidance, which addresses some of the most common concerns and queries we have received about the subject."

Update: Response from GMC Chair - 13 September 2018

We have received a response from Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC, to our letter requesting clarification on whether the GMC can request reflective practice notes from third parties.

The RCPCH is pleased that the GMC have confirmed that they are “absolutely clear that [they] do not seek reflective notes from third parties”.

Please see below to download the full correspondence between Professor Russell Viner and Professor Stephenson on this issue.