Professor Paul Bowie Speaks To The General Medical Council

Trainetics Faculty Member, Paul Bowie, was recently invited to speak at the GMC’s London HQ to give them a Human Factors perspective on why things go wrong (and right) in complex care systems.

It is both gratifying and encouraging when a regulator such as the GMC displays a strong interest in this important topic, seeking to apply an understanding of current theory and practices to inform how they work, including in developing a Just Culture.


Professor Bowie's key messages or ‘Hard Truths’ touched on the following:


  • Much published material on ‘human factors’ in healthcare journals and policy documentation misunderstands and misrepresents the discipline with a tendency to recycle the same myths and misconceptions.

  • Similarly, most healthcare curricula also misconceives the purpose of the discipline, with much content being outmoded and in need of modernisation.

  • It is vital when taking a ‘systems approach’ to learning from safety incidents, that we properly understand what this means and entails.

  • Thinking in terms of ‘medical error’ or ‘our errors’ can be unhelpful and largely inaccurate, leading to a focus on individuals which foments blame and is damaging on many levels.


The talk was very well received and generated much discussion and debate around the role and approach of the GMC in complaints investigation, revalidation and in influencing medical education at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the UK.


While it is early days in terms of progress, it was clear that the GMC leadership is beginning to embrace the concept and approach of Human Factors and is exploring how this can benefit its everyday work – a very welcome and highly positive development.

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