Changes to our guidance for how doctors use patient feedback – have your say - Version for patients, carers and members of the public

Area of Consultation: Licensing & revalidation

  • Start:Apr 30, 2019
  • End:Jul 23, 2019
  • Results planned
    for publication:
    Jan 30, 2020
  • Reference number:63
  • Status:ClosedClosed

Consultation Summary:

This consultation asks you questions about changes we are considering making to our guidance for how doctors use feedback from their patients.

It’s important that patients have the opportunity to give doctors feedback on the care they receive. We hear that doctors value feedback from their patients. By changing our guidance, we want to make it easier for patients to share their views with their doctors. The feedback should also better support doctors’ learning and development.

How do I take part?

Questions in this online consultation document are aimed at patients, carers, relatives and members of the public, who have views on how we could make it easier for patients to give their doctors feedback.

We have a separate consultation document for anyone who has an understanding of our current revalidation guidance for doctors. If you want to complete this version you can find it on our consultation website

If you are not able to complete the consultation online you can download and complete the consultation offline in Adobe reader, and send your response to or by post to: Patient Feedback Consultation, Registration and Revalidation, General Medical Council, Regent's Place, 350 Euston Road, London NW1 3JN.

You can find all versions of the questionnaires (including in Welsh) and the revised guidance in a pdf format on our website

If you need these documents in another format or language, call us on 0161 923 6602 or email us at


How doctors use patient feedback

Doctors must regularly show us that they’re giving good care to patients and keeping up to date – through a process called ‘revalidation’. This is how they maintain their licence to work in the UK. You can find out more about this at

For revalidation, doctors must collect examples of their work to understand what they’re doing well and how they can improve. An important part of this is checking what their patients think about the care they give by reviewing their feedback.

Our current guidance says that doctors must review feedback from a sample of their patients using a structured questionnaire, at least once every five years.

Feedback is usually collected during a clinic or surgery. Often another member of staff, such as a receptionist, will give patients a feedback form to fill in, but some doctors have to give these out themselves. Sometimes patients are sent a survey to complete online. Patients should be offered a way to respond that meets their needs, such as a questionnaires designed for people with learning or communication needs.

Why we’re asking about changes to our guidance

Two recent independent reviews of revalidation found that while doctors find patient feedback useful in helping them to learn, there are some problems with the way feedback is collected. Using a structured questionnaire doesn’t allow a wide range of patients to take part and many patients worry that comments they make may have a negative impact on their care. It was felt that not enough patients can take part and that doctors should look at feedback from patients more than once every five years.

What we’ve done so far

We’ve spoken to doctors, their responsible officers and appraisers, patient organisations and the public from across the UK about our patient feedback requirements and how they would like them to change in future.

We drafted the revised guidance with an advisory group of doctors, their employers (NHS and private practice) and members of the public, from across the UK.

Equality and diversity

As we develop our guidance we will carry out an equality analysis, to identify the steps we must take to comply with the aims of the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010 (and associated legislation in Northern Ireland). Responses to this consultation will help us understand how any changes to our guidance could impact on doctors, patients and members of the public who share protected characteristics.

What happens next?

We will analyse responses to this consultation and take them into account when deciding what changes to make to our guidance for doctors. We aim to publish an updated version of our guidance in early 2020.

Further Information


What we want to achieve

We want to make it easier for patients and their family or carers to give their doctors feedback. We want doctors to be able to collect more helpful feedback that allows them to learn and understand what they do well and how they can improve.

What are we asking for your views on?

Your views are important to us. Please answer as many questions as you can. There are eight questions in this consultation but you don’t have to answer them all. You can complete the questions without reading our revised guidance.

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