On 10 December, the GMC launched a helpline intended to enable doctors to raise serious concerns about patient safety when they feel unable to do this at local level. The expressed aim of the helpline is "to support doctors who raise concerns around patient safety and to foster a more open and transparent working culture in which all staff feel empowered to speak up." The helpline advisers "will be able to take forward information about individual doctors or organisations that can be investigated by the GMC. Callers can also be directed to other appropriate organisations, such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC)."

Commissioners will note that where difficult funding decisions have to be taken, there is often concern expressed as to the impact of those decisions on the safety of particular groups of patients or even individuals. Given the highly charged political environment surrounding the changes to the commissioning landscape, it will be interesting to see if this helpline is used as a tool to seek to challenge controversial commissioning decisions taken by CCGs.