After a significant number of complaints being raised about individual doctors working in certain Essex hospitals, the General Medical Council (GMC) has confirmed that it has been carrying out a number of investigations.

Around 48 cases have been looked into, with 18 at the Queen's Hospital in Romford alone. Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, had six cases, with Colchester, Basildon and others also under investigation.

There has previously been concern over the reluctance of hospitals to refer doctors to the GMC and for the GMC to subsequently take action and look into the complaints raised.

However, in light of the Mid Staffordshire tragedies, it is hoped that there has been an increase in people coming forward regarding their concerns, and that there is more awareness of the need to acknowledge and deal with these complaints.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, has indicated that good regulation is key to protect patient's safety, and that 'serious concerns about health professionals should not be swept under the carpet'.

Harriet Woodward, solicitor in Penningtons' clinical negligence team, commented: “We are pleased to notice that the GMC is taking a proactive role where there is a suggestion of a number of concerns about the care provided by individual doctors and reassuring the public that these matters are being investigated. We have long been concerned that trends of poor practice are not identified and/or acted upon and hopefully this, together with the recent Francis and Keogh reports, means that the public can have more confidence that problems will be addressed early on.”