The GMC have recently published new guidance aimed at assisting the medical profession to become better reflective practitioners.

It provides top tips on reflective practice and the reflective practice tool-kit provides helpful examples.

The guidance also emphasises the need for openness and honesty with patients, this clearly a close link to a duty of candour.

Interestingly the section on reflecting on serious incidents stresses the need to reflect after a serious incident but advocates that factual details be recorded elsewhere.

Reflective practice is essentially, the ability to critically reflect on one’s actions and thereby engage in the process of continuous learning. This leads to developmental insight.

The first models were developed in the 1970s and over time new models have been developed. Gibbs [1988] being the most widely used by many of the nursing profession.

Reflective Practice is considered important for doctors due to the constant change in healthcare with new research and developments.

Now incorporated into most undergraduate programmes for healthcare professionals, over time reflective practice should become part of the fabric of healthcare and professionals should feel more comfortable in challenging their own practice to the benefit of patients.

The issue of reflective practice has come to the fore as part of the Dr Bawa-Garba case.

Giving evidence at the Williams Review, Professor Terence Stephenson, Chairman of the GMC, stated that governments should legislate to protect reflective practice:

“We have made it clear the GMC will not ask for doctors’ reflective records as part of the fitness to practise processes. But we do not control the actions of the courts and recorded reflections, such as in e-Portfolios or for CPD purposes, are not subject to legal protection.”

In my experience, at the present time doctors are in my view criticised if they do not provide evidence of reflective practice and it is often the only way in which they can demonstrate development of insight.

We await the conclusions of the Review in 2019.