Skip to Content

Home » Library » Medical Regulation Poster

The programme, in conjunction with the General Medical Council, has commissioned a series of projects concerned with medical regulation.  The text below was originally designed for a poster, which you can download here as a pdf version.

To read the graphs and figures click on the thumbnail and a larger picture will appear.

Why study medical regulation?

Medical care can play a major role in quality and quantity of life, but it also poses risks. Research suggests that one in ten patients admitted to hospital experience an unintended injury or complication, most of which are preventable, and that each year this accounts for more deaths than breast cancer or AIDS¹. One of the main aims of medical regulation is to control and limit risks to patient safety. But, there is little research to date which tells us what actually affects the performance of medical practitioners and how regulation operates.

Research can help to throw light on some of the key disputes in this field, including:                     

» What competing definitions of good practice are there, and what evidence is available to assess these rival claims?     

» What are the competing approaches to good regulation (for instance, professional self-regulation and external regulation) and what evidence is available to assess them?

» What factors seem to predispose medical professionals to under perform and what, if any, interventions can help to minimise their effect?

» Why do doctors from some backgrounds (specifically those trained overseas or those from ethnic minorities) experience greater exposure to Fitness to Practise proceedings than those from other backgrounds?

¹de Vries et al (2007) ‘The incidence and nature of in-hospital adverse events: a systematic review’ Quality and Safety in Health Care 2008;17:216-223

Patients reporting error

Who we are and how we work

The ESRC Public Services Programme has commissioned a unique set of 11 complementary research projects, co-funded by the UK General Medical Council (GMC), the regulatory body for the medical profession in the UK .  The projects are based at institutions around the UK and the researchers, some of whom are clinicians themselves, are drawn from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds (see pie chart).

 Researcher Disciplines

Given that this is a relatively new research field, the projects are mainly exploratory in nature, mostly concentrating on desk research linked with small scale empirical studies involving observations, interviews and documentary analysis. 

This research augments other projects in our programme that look at: aspects of health care performance, including how performance can be validly and reliably measured; how far measured performance is shaped by financial incentives; and how far alternative systems of provision are linked to equity in treatment.

What are we trying to find out?

» The impact on performance of low-trust regulatory reforms such as audit and inspection regimes intended to increase transparency and accountability, including:  

 Clocking off? Healthcare workers and ‘donated’ labour

» Factors that lead doctors to underperform, including:  

» The extent of the challenges encountered by ethnic minority and migrant doctors, including:  

» What constitutes good practice, including:

NHSLA Negligence Claims

Implications of this research 

We aim to:
» inform regulatory design in the UK and other countries;
» shape medical education and training policies and practices;
» lay the foundations for a new generation of social science research on medical regulation.