The human cost of a failing doctor is difficult to measure, but it is estimated that nearly 12,000 patients die in England each year as a result of preventable medical errors. All of us, as patients, expect our doctors to be competent. If they are not, we expect the doctors to be stopped from practising.
The General Medical Council has powers to do this. However, there is a wider problem that is more difficult to address: doctors who underperform. For this group of doctors, they do not need to stop practising but, to keep patients safe, they need help. This could be through retraining in a certain area, or perhaps addressing underlying physical or mental health problems. Bringing a doctor’s performance back up to an acceptable standard is called remediation.